Wednesday, February 27, 2013

TMNT: The Secret History of the Foot Clan #3


Publication date: February 27, 2013


Story: Mateus Santolouco
Script: Mateus Santolouco and Erik Burnham
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Joao “Azeitona” Vieira
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow

Summary:

The past.  Oroku Maji and Masato find the empty box that had contained “The Secret of the Foot”.  Masato says that he saw Oroku Saki leaving this morning with the book and provisions.  Sullenly, Maji says that he has taken steps to stop Saki from fulfilling the Kitsune witch’s curse.

In the mountains, Saki is confronted by his father’s men.  The men have been ordered to bring him back alive if possible, but one overzealous Foot Soldier goes for the kill, scarring Saki over his left eye.  Enraged at his father’s perceived betrayal, Saki slaughters the assassins.  He’s then approached by the Kitsune witch who says that Saki’s father had betrayed them all.


The present.  The Turtles continue brawling with the Foot at the Clan’s skyscraper HQ while April and Casey navigate their way through the carnage in search of Dr. Miller.  They find him, but he’s being guarded by Alopex and a horde of Foot Soldiers.  Luckily, Don and Mike get their backs and keep the ninja at bay while April and Casey usher the confused Doctor out of the carnage.  Meanwhile, Leo goes toe-to-toe with an unimpressed (and seemingly resentful) Karai while Splinter and the Shredder lock horns once more.

The past.  Oroku Saki wakes up in the Kitsune witch’s cottage from a nightmare in which he was killed by his father.  The Kitsune says that what he viewed wasn’t a dream, but a past life.  She then shows him a vision of how she met a great demon and vowed to do his bidding in exchange for the secret of life itself.  She had joined with Tatsuo Takeshi and ruled the Foot Clan in the demon’s service for a century until Saki’s father, Oroku Maji, killed Tatsuo.  Tatsuo Takeshi’s spirit, however, was reincarnated in Oroku Saki.  The Kitsune witch then asks Saki what price he would pay in exchange for the same immortality he had in his previous life.


The present.  With Dr. Miller safely removed, the Turtles and Splinter beat a tactical retreat (but not before Leo silences the jealous, prattling Karai with a kick to the face).  Everyone loads into April’s van except Raph, who is still busy with Alopex.  Raph insists the others leave him behind and that he’ll catch up.  They escape in the van while Raph purloins a motorcycle from a frightened motorist.  Alopex gives chase on foot, latching onto the van.  Raph comes up behind her on the motorcycle and knocks her to the ground.

Later, the group relaxes, though they aren’t sure where they can bring Dr. Miller (the lair is out of the question).  Dr. Miller is still getting acclimated to the mutant animals, but willingly translates some of Saki’s pages from “The Secret of the Foot”.  Mike asks about any resurrected ninja in the book and Miller reads a passage about a “Dragon Warrior” who could not be held by death and was wholly reborn.  Leo (nursing a slash to the arm he took from Karai) ponders that if the “Dragon Warrior” is Oroku Saki (and not an overweight panda), then that would mean the Shredder is essentially unkillable.


The past.  In the dead of night, Oroku Saki pays a visit to his father.  He throws the corpse of Masato onto the floor and tells Maji that he not only knows everything about his past life as Tatsuo Takeshi, but has seen a future where he rules all.  Maji says that everything he did, he did out of love for his son.  Saki renounces his father then dons his gauntlet, intent on killing him.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from The Secret History of theFoot Clan #2.  The story continues in The Secret History of the Foot Clan #4.

*Karai’s resentment toward Leo stems from TMNT (IDW) #14, where Shredder informed her that he would be replacing her with Leo as his second in command.

*This issue was originally published with 3 variant covers: Regular Cover by Santolouco, Cover RI by Ross Campbell, and Cover RE for Jetpack Comics by Kevin Eastman and Ian Herring.


Review:

God, this needs to be a movie.  Preferably without Megan Fox (look at me, I’m being topical!).

“The Secret History of the Foot Clan” has a cumbersome title and a gloriously cinematic approach to both the storytelling and the art.  The back and forth between eras is handled gracefully, with some smooth segues that transition you in and out of each era at a natural, fluid pace that never kills the momentum of the action.  The present set narrative and the flashback narrative actively compliment one another, with the contemporary arc revealing tidbits about the past arc and vice versa.  It’s a really dynamic script that segments its dueling narratives strategically for the benefit of the overall story flow (and thus the benefit of the reader, too).

We finally see Oroku Saki “snap” and make his break into the world of true villainy… and it’s all the fault of one unnamed Foot Soldier that couldn’t follow orders.  What a jerk.  Saki’s origin in this miniseries has been a tragic one and you feel for his downfall even though you knew the outcome well in advance.  I do wonder if his decision to embrace Tatsuo Takeshi’s destiny was a completely conscious choice, or if the Kitsune witch manipulated him further down that path than he otherwise would have gone.  True, Saki was distressed at his father’s perceived betrayal, but when the Kitsune unlocked Tatsuo Takeshi’s memories, did the Oroku Saki that Oroku Maji raised cease to exist, replaced by the will of Tatsuo Takeshi?  In a strange way, Oroku Saki was never really the “bad guy”, at least in regards to the Shredder’s competing personalities; it was always Tatsuo Takeshi that was the "darkness" while Oroku Saki was the "light".

It’s a great play on that squandered element of Mirage’s Shredder origin which described him as a distraught youth, grieving the death of his older brother and manipulated by the Foot into becoming a ruthless killer.  The sympathetic angle of Shredder’s past, the idea that he was a pawn being guided by greater forces, is one that has desperately been in need of being expanded upon.  It’s great to finally have a Turtle medium willing to delve further into the Shredder’s history and portray him as something deeper than just a generic “evil for evil’s sake” type of villain.

Meanwhile, the Turtles take a back seat to the overall story, but the miniseries is called “Secret History of the Foot Clan” so it’s no surprise they’re more secondary players.  Never the less, the big brawl at the skyscraper was a furious piece of action rendered by the always impressive Santolouco.  I love how catty Karai is in this fight, too; actively criticizing and belittling Leo (for reasons Leo isn’t yet aware of).  I still find it questionable that the Turtles could be swinging their weapons in a crowded hallway full of ninja and not kill anybody, but IDW's "no kill" policy assures us the Turtles are just "knocking them out".  Somehow

I did kind of feel that the main villains, even the Shredder, were somewhat muted in their threat during this fight.  Shredder and Splinter’s rematch is reduced to 3 panels, Alopex is still an ineffectual grunt and Karai gets bested by a distracted Leo while trying to give it her all.  But again, what saves these moments is Santolouco’s art, which depicts even their failures as epic and exciting.  Alopex is as lame a villain as it gets, but the scene where she reveals an heretofore unseen super speed ability and catches up to the van was heart-pumping.  She actually stopped being a joke and became a legitimately frightening adversary (before quickly being reduced to a joke again, but still). 

The entire car chase was rendered masterfully (Santolouco seems to be really good at high speed chases), even if I question whether Raph could throw a helmet faster than his motorcycle was moving and with enough force to knock Alopex off the van.  Is that how physics works?  If Raph’s moving at (let’s say) 50 miles per hour and he throws his helmet at (let’s say) 40 miles per hour (a slow ball), does that mean it impacted Alopex at 90 miles per hour?  But she was attached to the van, so she was also moving at (let’s say) 50 miles per hour, so that means it only hit her at 40 miles per hour, right?  The helmet wouldn’t just fly back in Raph’s face as soon as he threw it?

My community college degree hard at work, here.

Grade: A (as in, “And man, I love that little detail of Leo binding his arm wound with his bandana.  Every once in a while, we need a reminder that those bandanas aren’t hot-glued to the TMNT’s faces”.)

Some TMNT sites worth checking out!

I admit to being a bit of a slacker when it comes to updating (I aim for at least thrice a week), but that doesn't mean there aren't other TMNT sites run by fans that offer a near-daily dose of Turtle news.

Two of the best, in case you haven't already heard of them, are:

Go Green Machine.org

These folks have been around a while (even advertised their site in actual issues of Mirage's TMNT comics!) and they do a great job of not just covering the odds and ends of the TMNT spectrum, but following the individuals who made the franchise possible with regular updates on the careers of old school TMNT staffers.  And contests, too!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.com

Great, professional site layout and lots of regular updates on the current happenings of the TMNT franchise.  I admit to being an old fogey that doesn't always keep up with the latest (my site is more about chronicling the past than anticipating the future), so site's like this one are where I get most of my news.  There's also a shop, a fanzone and lots of stuff to keep you busy after you've caught up on the news.


Sunday, February 24, 2013

The IDW TMNT continuity timeline



Ever since completing my Mirage TMNT reading order and Archie TMNT Adventures reading order, some folks asked that I do the same for the IDW TMNT series, which has been growing increasingly more complicated.  So what they hey.

For reference's sake, IDW has been releasing their own line of chronological hard cover collections called "TMNT: The IDW Collection".  I'll try to align with that reading order if the collections ever end up contradicting my order, but so far that hasn't been a problem.



CHANGE IS CONSTANT

TMNT #1 (review)
TMNT #2 (review)
TMNT #3 (review)
TMNT #4 (review)
TMNT 30th Anniversary Special - "A Lot to Learn" (review)


ENEMIES OLD, ENEMIES NEW and INFESTATION 2: TMNT

TMNT #5 (review)
Micro-Series #1: Raphael (review)
Micro-Series #2: Michelangelo (review)
TMNT #6 (review)
Micro-Series #3: Donatello (review)
Infestation 2: TMNT #1 (review)
Infestation 2: TMNT #2 (review)
TMNT #7 (review)
TMNT #8 (review)


SHADOWS OF THE PAST

Micro-Series #4: Leonardo (review)
TMNT #9 (review)
TMNT #10 (review)
Micro-Series #5: Splinter (review)
TMNT #11 (review)
TMNT #12 (review)


SINS OF THE FATHERS, ANNUAL 2012 and BLOOD BROTHERS

Micro-Series #6: Casey Jones (review)
TMNT #13 (review)
TMNT #14 (review)
TMNT Annual 2012 (review)
Micro-Series #7: April (review)
TMNT #15 (review)
TMNT #16 (review)


KRANG WAR

Micro-Series #8: Fugitoid (review)
TMNT #17 (review)
TMNT #18 (review)
TMNT #19 (review)
TMNT #20 (review)
Villains Micro-Series #1: Krang (review)
Villains Micro-Series #2: Baxter (review)


THE SECRET HISTORY OF THE FOOT CLAN

The Secret History of the Foot Clan #1 (review)
The Secret History of the Foot Clan #2 (review)
The Secret History of the Foot Clan #3 (review)
The Secret History of the Foot Clan #4 (review)


CITY FALL

TMNT #21 (review)
TMNT #22 (review)
Villains Micro-Series #3: Old Hob (review)
TMNT #23 (review)
TMNT #24 (review)
Villains Micro-Series #4: Alopex (review)
Villains Micro-Series #5: Karai (review)
TMNT #25 (review)
Villains Micro-Series #6: Hun (review)
TMNT #26 (review)
Villains Micro-Series #7: Bebop and Rocksteady (review)
TMNT #27 (review)
TMNT #28 (review)
Villains Micro-Series #8: Shredder (review)


NORTHAMPTON and UTROM EMPIRE

Note: For best reading order, read "Utrom Empire" all together after "Northampton".

TMNT #29 (review)
Utrom Empire #1 (review)
TMNT #30 (review)
Utrom Empire #2 (review)
TMNT #31 (review)
TMNT #32 (review)
Utrom Empire #3 (review)


ANNUAL 2014 and MONSTERS, MISFITS AND MADMEN

TMNT Annual 2014 (review)
TMNT #33 (review)
TMNT #34 (review)
TMNT #35 (review)
TMNT #36 (review)


NEW MUTANT ORDER and TURTLES IN TIME

Note: #37 and Turtles in Time take place concurrently so it doesn't matter which you read first.

TMNT #37 (review)
Turtles in Time #1 (review)
Turtles in Time #2 (review)
Turtles in Time #3 (review)
Turtles in Time #4 (review)
TMNT #38 (review)
TMNT #39 (review)
TMNT #40 (review)


TMNT/GHOSTBUSTERS

TMNT/Ghostbusters #1 (review)
TMNT/Ghostbusters #2 (review)
TMNT/Ghostbusters #3 (review)
TMNT/Ghostbusters #4 (review)


ATTACK ON TECHNODROME and MUTANIMALS

Note: For best reading order, read "Mutanimals" all together after "Attack on Technodrome".

TMNT #41 (review)
TMNT #42 (review)
TMNT #43 (review)
Mutanimals #1 (review)
TMNT #44 (review)
Mutanimals #2 (review)
Mutanimals #3 (review)
Mutanimals #4 (review)


VENGEANCE and CASEY & APRIL

Note: For best reading order, read "Casey & April" all together after "Vengeance".

TMNT #45 (review)
Free Comic Book Day 2015 (review)
TMNT #46 (review)
TMNT #47 (review)
Casey & April #1 (review)
TMNT #48 (review)
TMNT #49 (review)
TMNT #50 (review)
Casey & April #2 (review)
Casey & April #3 (review)
Casey & April #4 (review)


ORDER FROM CHAOS

TMNT #51 (review)
TMNT #52 (review)
TMNT #53 (review)
TMNT #54 (review)
TMNT #55 (review)


LEATHERHEAD and FOX HUNT

TMNT #56 (review)
TMNT #57 (review)
TMNT #58 (review)
TMNT #59 (review)
TMNT #60 (review)


CHASING PHANTOMS

TMNT #61 (review)
TMNT #62 (review)
TMNT #63 (review)
TMNT #64 (review)


BEBOP & ROCKSTEADY DESTROY EVERYTHING!

Bebop & Rocksteady Destroy Everything! #1 (review)
Bebop & Rocksteady Destroy Everything! #2 (review)
Bebop & Rocksteady Destroy Everything! #3 (review)
Bebop & Rocksteady Destroy Everything! #4 (review)
Bebop & Rocksteady Destroy Everything! #5 (review)


THE WAR TO COME and INSIDE OUT (back-up)

Note: For best reading order, read all of "The War to Come" (the main story) before "Inside Out" (the back-up).

TMNT Universe #1 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #2 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #3 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #4 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #1 back-up (review)
TMNT Universe #2 back-up (review)
TMNT Universe #3 back-up (review)
TMNT Universe #4 back-up (review)
TMNT Universe #5 back-up (review)


CHRISTMAS SPECIAL, URBAN LEGENDS, THE ROT IN THE SHELL and WHAT IS NINJA? (back-up)

TMNT #65 (review)
TMNT Universe #5 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #6 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #6 back-up (review)
TMNT Universe #7 back-up (review)
TMNT Universe #8 back-up (review)
TMNT Universe #9 back-up (review)


METALHEAD 2.0 and DESPERATE MEASURES

TMNT #66 (review)
TMNT Universe #7 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #8 main story (review)
TMNT #67 (review)
TMNT #68 (review)
TMNT #69 (review)
TMNT #70 (review)


TOAD BARON'S BALL, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA PEPPERONI, PANTHEON FAMILY REUNION and NAMAZU

TMNT Universe #9 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #10 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #10 back-up (review)
TMNT #71 (review)
TMNT #72 (review)
TMNT/Usagi Yojimbo #1 (review)


THE JERSEY DEVIL, KARAI'S PATH and PREY

TMNT Universe #11 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #12 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #13 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #14 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #15 main story (review)
TMNT Universe #12 back-up (review)
TMNT Universe #13 back-up (review)
TMNT Universe #14 back-up (review)
TMNT Universe #15 back-up (review)


TRIAL OF KRANG and DIMENSION X

Free Comic Book Day 2017 (review)
TMNT #73 (review)
TMNT: Dimension X #1 (review)
TMNT: Dimension X #2 (review)
TMNT: Dimension X #3 (review)
TMNT: Dimension X #4 (review)
TMNT: Dimension X #5 (review)
TMNT #74 (review)
TMNT #75 (review)


INVASION OF THE TRICERATONS and FROM THE HEART, FOR THE HERD

TMNT #76 (review)
TMNT #77 (review)
TMNT #78 (review)
TMNT #79 (review)
TMNT #80 (review)
TMNT Universe #16 (review)
TMNT Universe #17 (review)


TMNT/GHOSTBUSTERS 2

TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #1 (review)
TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #2 (review)
TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #3 (review)
TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #4 (review)
TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #5 (review)


Notations:

The placement of issues outside the ongoing series is fairly intuitive and many of the issues come with notes on the interior cover telling you where the story goes.  Still, a few of them can be a little confusing, so as always, click “review” and scroll down to “Turtle Tips” for a full reasoning of placement.  For this article, though, I’ll summarize a few of the oddities:

TMNT MICRO-SERIES: Most of these one-shots came with notes on the inside cover from editor Bobby Curnow explaining where they slot-in in regards to the ongoing series.  In the case of TMNT Micro-Series #7: April, the note on the inside cover places it between TMNT #12 and TMNT #13.  Curnow later explained that between TMNT #14 and TMNT #15 was a better placement.

INFESTATION 2: Infestation 2 was an event that affected multiple IDW titles without actually requiring any crossovers.  The event began in Infestation 2 #1, ran through the title-based Infestation 2 miniseries, then ended in Infestation 2 #2.  The Turtles do not appear in the main Infestation 2 miniseries beyond the covers and a brief appearance in a montage, so as such I felt no need to include those issues in this timeline.  The events of the Infestation 2: TMNT storyline are self-contained and thus far have not been referenced in any other issues.  The issues were also excluded from the TMNT: The IDW Collection Vol. 1 hard cover, making fans question their canonicity.

HERO COMICS 2012: “Ready Set Go!” was a short comic by Kevin Eastman published in IDW’s charity book Hero Comics 2012 #1.  It was reprinted in the TMNT 30th Anniversary Special where it was designated as being a part of the Mirage universe, rather than the IDW universe.

ANNUAL 2012: An official IDW reading guide places the 2012 Annual where I have (between #14 and #15).  However, the TMNT: IDW Collection Vol. 3 hardcover (a series that collects the ongoing and minis in a chronological reading order) places it between #20 and #21.  Presumably, the reason for this is because there wasn't enough room in Vol. 2 for the 2012 Annual, so it was shifted to Vol. 3 and placed where it works best (as a prelude to "City Fall").  Regardless, the Annual is a self-contained story and reads fine in either placement.

UTROM EMPIRE and NORTHAMPTON: The events of the Utrom Empire and Northampton arcs occur concurrently with one another.  The Turtles play a minor part in Utrom Empire, with their scenes taking place at different times throughout the Northampton storyline.  Their scenes in Utrom Empire #3 actually take place before and after TMNT #32.  Personally, I'd recommend reading all of Utrom Empire AFTER Northampton, just because the storylines would flow better that way.

X-FILES CONSPIRACY: For those wondering why that issue is not included in my timeline, the events of the X-Files: Conspiracy event were rendered non-canon by the last issue of the miniseries, essentially relegating the chapters to an alternate universe.  As a result, the X-Files/TMNT: Conspiracy comic is retroactively non-canon (which may be for the best, as the issue contained several irreconcilable errors in continuity).

TURTLES IN TIME: According to Curnow, the 2014 TMNT Annual takes place between issues #32 and #33, while the Turtles in Time miniseries takes place concurrently with #37.  It can be read either before or after that one-shot issue of the ongoing, as that story doesn't feature the Turtles in it at all.

MUTANIMALS: The events of the Mutanimals miniseries spin directly out of TMNT #43 and then proceed to go in their own direction separate from the storyline of Attack on Technodrome.  For reading purposes, as with Utrom Empire and Northampton, I'd recommend reading Mutanimals after finishing Attack on Technodrome.

VENGEANCE: According to Curnow, the Free Comic Book Day special, "Prelude to Vengeance" is intended to be read before TMNT #46 but occurs concurrently with that issue (so despite being titled "prelude" it actually takes place between chapters 1 and 2 of that arc).

CASEY & APRIL: This miniseries spins out of TMNT #47 with a prologue in the first issue that takes place on the same night.  The rest of issue #1 and all of #2-4 take place several days after TMNT #50.  As always, I'd recommend reading it altogether AFTER "Vengeance" instead of disrupting that arc's narrative flow.

BATMAN/TMNT: According to editor Bobby Curnow, the Batman/TMNT crossover miniseries published by DC Comics in 2015/2016 is not a part of the IDW continuity.  The Turtle side of it is "inspired" by the IDW characterization and setting, but is otherwise unrelated to their universe.

TMNT UNIVERSE: TMNT Universe is an ongoing anthology series featuring arcs of varying length that don't lead into one another, but tell different stories about the Turtles and the other characters from their book.  Basically, it replaces the scattered miniseries by collecting them under an ongoing umbrella banner.  The series also features back-up strips that run at a different pace from the main features.


Saturday, February 23, 2013

TMNT (Vol. 1) #16


 Publication date: July, 1988


Story and art: Mark Martin

“A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Story”

Summary:

In a warehouse, a little girl offers to tell the reader a story.  Before she can, the “Cowboy Cola” cup she’s drinking from vanishes and she realizes that she only has a little time left to thank some individuals who helped her.  She invites the reader into her time machine (a big white cute) and tells them that they’re going back seven years to just before she was born.

Seven years ago (the “present”), a purse snatcher makes off with an old lady’s handbag.  The Ninja Turtles stop him and scare him off, then use the old lady’s pet dog to return the purse.  Leo wanders off alone to an old warehouse and the time machine appears in front of him.  The little girl steps out of the cube and gives Leo a big hug (much to his surprise).  She expresses familiarity with Leo, but the Turtle has never met her before.  Leo fetches his brothers and the little girl uses that opportunity to shoo the reader out a window before the Turtles can see them.  The other Turtles return and the little girl gives them each a hug and a kiss and thanks them for everything.  She then climbs back into her time machine and vanishes.


An instant later, the time machine returns.  The Turtles expect the little girl to come climbing back out, but instead they’re greeted by a small, bug-eyed creature.  The creature says that it’s from the future and has read all their comic books.  It came back in time to ask them for help.  The Turtles, more confused than ever, demand the whole story.

The creature explains that its parents (Bobby and Manda) live a couple blocks down the street.  Its father is trying to sell his new soft drink, Cowboy Cola, but can’t get it off the ground.  Worse than that, its mother is pregnant and the couple needs money before the baby is born in two months.  The creature says that to make ends meet, Bobby will take a job at Maxi Mega Multi Corp Capitalist Conglomerates doing research into a radioactive serum that will create a “Master Race”.  Bobby will bring home radiation from that project that will affect the baby in Manda’s womb.  The baby will become hyper intelligent and self-aware even before its birth.  Of course, it will end up being born the deformed creature that it is now.


The creature further explains that after it was born, it knew that its parents would fear it and the government would want to dissect it, so it fled to this same abandoned warehouse and spent the next several years building a time machine.  It then took the time machine back to two months before it was born to enlist the help of the Ninja Turtles.  The creature says it wants the Turtles to keep Bobby from taking the job at MMMCCC and thus prevent the creature from being pelted with radiation in the womb (allowing it to be born a normal child).

The Turtles are unsure about helping, as they don’t think messing with history (even if it’s their present) is a good idea.  The creature runs off without them and they give chase.  The creature lures them into a nearby home where they come face to face with the startled Bobby and Manda.  Thinking fast, the Turtles decide to help the creature out.  They tell Bobby that they’re the welcoming committee from MMMCCC and look forward to seeing him every day at work.  Bobby and Manda faint and the Turtles sneak back to the warehouse.


At the warehouse, they find the creature, but it’s not the creature anymore.  It’s slowly transforming into the same little girl that they met earlier.  The creature-girl realizes that because the timeline is changing, it needs to get back to the future ASAP and climbs into the time machine and vanishes without saying goodbye.

In the future, the little girl (now fully transformed) steps out of the time machine and pours a drink into a “Cowboy Cola” glass.  The little girl notices that a stowaway climbed into her time machine before she took off: the reader.  She says that she’ll get the reader back to the present before the time machine vanishes, but first she wants to tell them a story...


Turtle Tips:

*The story continues in TMNT (Vol. 1) #22.

*Due to scheduling problems, TMNT (Vol. 1) #16 was released before TMNT (Vol. 1) #15.  The cover correctly dates the issue as July, 1988, but the indicia mistakenly reads September, 1988.

*TMNT #16 is the first “guest issue” of the series and as such is non-canon to the ongoing Mirage TMNT storyline.  The actual full-on “guest era” will begin after TMNT (Vol. 1) #21.

*This issue also included a photo comic starring Mark Martin acting like a doofus.


Review:

Although this isn’t technically the start of the “guest era” of TMNT Vol. 1, it is the first “guest issue” of the series and a reasonable enough point for me to lay out my feelings about Mirage's polarizing experiment.

By and large, I really don’t care much for the Vol. 1 guest era.  On principle, I think it was an interesting idea, but it went on way too long and rarely lived up to its own potential.  The guest era was initiated to invite various creators to apply their own unique spin on the TMNT and offer the audience a wide array of stories and styles linked only by the familiar characters.  What we wound up getting was a lot of surreal comedy rubbish.  Surreal comedy rubbish by several different creative teams, but it was all surreal comedy rubbish never-the-less.  Michael Zulli was one of the few creators to interpret “your own take on the TMNT” not as an opportunity for stupid zany comedy antics, but for a genuine reinterpretation of the characters and their origins.  Nearly everybody else?  Surreal comedy rubbish.

And twenty consecutive issues of that can really start to wear on you.

But that’s my impression of the Vol. 1 guest era as a whole, looking back at the entire experiment.  This lone issue, all by itself… Now that’s a different matter altogether.

TMNT #16 by Mark Martin is actually a really cute and really fun story with a lot of ambitious storytelling methods not just in the script, but in the art, too.  It is a well-crafted comic book and one I admit I didn’t appreciate the first time I read it (when I associated it with all the surreal comedy rubbish of the guest era that is positively exhausting to read through).

Martin employs a lot of narrative tricks that are great fun to wrap your head around.  The story “loops”, ending right where it began and taking the narrative full circle.  At first I didn’t really get the need for the unseen reader gimmick, but later I realized that it was a neat way to get the audience “involved” in the time travelling shenanigans.  When the story begins, “you” aren’t your present day self, but your future self.  The little girl returns you to the present and sneaks you out a window and your future self exits the story.  Then, at the end, your present day self stows away on the time machine and connects to the very beginning of the tale, becoming your future self.

It’s some wild stuff and shows how strange, elaborate and carefully scripted Martin’s story really is.

Martin’s art also provides some wild variety, as the little girl is terribly cute and cartoonish while many of her environments look almost photo-traced for realistic authenticity.  When the Turtles first appear, they’re drawn in the same style as Eastman and Laird’s cover for TMNT #1 before turning into Martin’s own style for them.  When the creature recounts the tale of Bobby and Manda, they’re drawn in a simplistic comic strip fashion, but when the Turtles encounter them, they’re drawn as a detailed parody rendering of “American Gothic”.  Again, there’s a truly impressive sense of craftsmanship involved in this single issue on all fronts.

I guess I really only have two criticisms toward this issue and the first is really more a criticism of the sequels.  And the criticism is that the sequels exist.  TMNT #16 is a great one-shot, standalone story, but Martin ends up going back to the well after its run dry and the sequels boast none of the charm inherent in this story.  Sort of like how “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “The Matrix” are excellent films, but when considered as part of a trilogy they’re immediately brought down (because those sequels were shit).

My second criticism, and one that really does distract from the overall quality of this story, is that the Ninja Turtles don’t need to be there.  They’re superfluous to the plot and it ends up feeling like Martin had a fully formed script or story summary in his head before sitting down to draw this issue and then stuck the Turtles in there so he could get the exposure from the brand name.  What purpose do the Turtles truly serve?  As recipients for the creature's/the little girl’s exposition?  The unseen reader character whom the little girl is constantly talking to fills in that role just fine.  Are they there just to scare Bobby and Manda away from MMMCCC?  The creature could have done that all on its own by popping in on them the same way the Turtles did (the only quality of the Turtles that saves the day is that they’re weird-looking; a quality shared by the creature).

In the end, this is a wonderful story about an adorable, time travelling little girl, but the Turtles absolutely do not need to be there and are only included so that this could be a TMNT guest issue.

That aside, it’s still a clever script with a lot of humor and personality put into the art.  It’s a perfect example of Martin’s storytelling skills and it’s only brought down by being part of an unnecessary trilogy and by, well, being an awkward Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic.

Grade: B+ (as in, “But the issue basically had me at ‘adorable little girl clutching a teddy bear and rubbing her eyes’.  That was unfair”.)

 

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

TMNT (IDW) #19


 Publication date: February 20, 2013


Story: Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Ben Bates
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow

"Krang War, Part 3"

Summary:

At the NRF command center on Planet Neutrino, Krang tells the resistance to surrender the Fugitoid to him within 24 hours or he’ll execute King Zenter and Queen Gizzla.  Professor Honeycutt offers to give himself up, but Princess Trib wont’ let him.  She says that they need to use what time they have left to complete their weapon to defeat Krang and defy the odds by rescuing her parents.  Donatello goes with Honeycutt to the lab to work on the weapon while Leo and Commander Dask brainstorm on a rescue strategy.

Back on Earth, Karai parachutes down to Burnow Island in the dead of night.

Speaking of Burnow Island, April does some research and learns that it’s a small island between North America and Western Africa.  It was taken over by a dictator named General Krang decades ago and the indigenous people killed off.  Casey wonders why he never heard about that and April informs him that because the island has no natural resources or strategic value, no government or news program cared enough to report on the incident.  As the plot thickens, April ponders just what Baxter Stockman is doing in a place like that.

At the Royal Palace on Planet Neutrino, the King and Queen defiantly tell Krang that the Neutrino people will never submit to him.  Krang informs them that he doesn’t want their submission, he wants their exterminations.  And after he gets the Fugitoid, he will complete the Technodrome, terraform Earth into the new Utrominon and the Utroms shall rule the universe as they were always destined to.  Krang tells Zenter that they aren’t so different, as they both want what is best for their people, however, what separates them is that Krang is ruthless enough to get what he wants.


On Burnow Island, Karai kills a guard and puts her knife to another’s throat, demanding he take her to the alien ooze.

Back on Neutrino, Honeycutt is reunited with his old lab partner, Felix (who now has a robotic arm after he lost his when Krang attacked).  Felix and Honeycutt introduce Don to the END (Electronics Nullifying Device) Missile which, when completed, will use microwaves to disable all of Krang’s electronics and cripple his army.  Honeycutt inquires how Felix finally tracked him down to Earth and Felix explains that after much effort he was able to track his unique radiation signature.  And last but not least, before they complete the missile, Felix intends to fix Honeycutt’s damaged vocal circuits.  Don can help.


Later, Leo and Dask go over their strategy one more time.  While Zak, Raph and the bulk of the NRF stage an all-out assault on the Royal Palace, Dask, Kala, Leo and Mike will infiltrate the complex and rescue the King and Queen.  Pulling rank, Princess Trib insists on going too, much to Dask’s dismay (and Mikey’s delight).  The Turtles and Neutrinos head out to battle while Don stays behind and helps Honeycutt and Felix finish the END Missile.  And while working on said missile, Honeycutt tells Don that should they fail, Krang will have the Technodrome complete in two years.  Honeycutt hints, though, that during his time as Chet, he allied himself with unsavory forces to plot against Krang.  If they fail, those allies may be their only hope in stopping Krang.

On Burnow Island, the guard leads Karai to the chamber where the Utroms are being held in ooze-filled pods as a form of stasis.  Karai kills the guard then raises her sword, prepared to drain the pods of their life-sustaining ooze.


At the Royal Palace, Zak and Raph have begun their assault.  Inside, Krang and Captain Tragg are shocked by such a swift counter attack and order Sergeant Granitor to use their every military resource to stop the NRF.  As the forces face off, Leo, Mike and the rest sneak into the Royal Palace and come face-to-face with Krang.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #18.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #20.

*Honeycutt remarks with surprise that the Turtles kept the names “she” gave them.  April named the Turtles way back in TMNT (IDW) #1 before they mutated.

*Felix last appeared in TMNT Microseries #8: Fugitoid.

*Chet was shown working with the Foot Clan in TMNT (IDW)#10.

*Among the Neutrino and Rock Soldier war machines you can spot Starmobiles, Flying Foot Skis, Turtle Blimp Gliders, Mutant Modules, Turtle Tanks and Sewer Dragsters (all, of course, were vehicles in the 1980s Playmates TMNT toyline).

*This issue was originally published with 3 variant covers: Cover A by Bates, Cover B by Eastman and Pattison, and Cover RI by Nick Pitarra and Megan Wilson.


Review:

Having to wait two months to get the next issue of TMNT sucked, but getting two issues of TMNT in one month rocked!  I am conflicted.

“Krang War” heats up as this issue primarily consists of getting all the players in place for the big finish.  What I enjoyed most was seeing all the Neutrinos, who all shared a singular personality on the 80s cartoon, given more distinct characterization.  Not *deep* characterization, but something’s better than nothing.  A few of them even act as a counterpart to a particular Turtle, with Zak being the hothead (who immediately finds a soul-mate in Raph) and Dask being the no-nonsense leader that gets along well with Leo.  Alas, Kala falls into the scenery during this issue and fails to receive any glimpse of a personality, but there’s still hope for next issue.

Also, the way April is handling the disappearance of the Turtles here in IDW offers a great counter example to how she handled their disappearance in the Mirage series.  When the Turtles were teleported across space in the Mirage book, April reacted by curling up in a fetal position and crying for three issues.  Here, even though she knows she’s powerless to bring them back, she uses all her skill and resources to try and accomplish as much as she can in their absence; hunting for clues about Burnow Island and General Krang.  It shows a useful, independent side of her that isn’t defined by her relationship to the TMNT.  Even when they’re out of the picture, she stays sharp and keeps moving forward.  Meanwhile, Mirage April was completely crippled once the Turtles were removed from her life because her entire existence revolved around them.  Thank you, IDW, for this awesome, awesome April O’Neil.

Those accomplishments aside, I found this installment in “Krang War” to be more of a drag than the previous episodes.  I guess you could qualify it as “the calm before the storm”, but there was a lot of exposition and set-up huddled into this one issue that really weighs it down.  We get exposition explaining Burnow Island, exposition explaining Honeycutt’s connection with the Foot, exposition explaining the magic missile (which is TOTALLY not an EMP weapon because that would be cliché), exposition about how Felix tracked down Honeycutt and a big long ramble as Leo and Dask explain what has to be the simplest strategy in the book (“You distract the bad guys while we slip in and rescue the hostages”).  I felt like the issue was talking *at* me a little too much rather than trusting me to pick up on the plot elements on my own.

Mikey’s crushing on Trib was cute and Krang going bonkers was wonderful (particularly for Bates’s art, but I’ll get to that), but some of the dialogue was a little… hammy.  Krang whips out the old “We aren’t so different, you and I” villain standard, while Zak belts out a Tough Guy 101 “Who wants to live forever?”  The dialogue was one “Stay frosty” away from reading like it was the output of an Action Movie Script Generator.

Bates keeps on a-rockin’ the art and his animated touches just pep this comic right the hell up even when the script is a little sleepy.  The cartoony effects, like Honeycutt whistling a note after getting his voice box repaired or Krang elastically erupting when the Neutrinos attack, aren’t the half of the charm, either.  There  are great little details to the staging, such as the cat-like look on Karai’s face as she lays in wait for the Burnow guards.  Bates’s Karai in general is my favorite rendition of the character from IDW and he really makes her look subtly formidable.  And the way he renders the facial expressions on the Turtles really gives me a Stan Sakai vibe (they both draw the heads on the TMNT and their exaggerated expressions similarly).

All in all, I enjoyed getting this issue so soon after the last one (delay and all) and I’m digging where the Krang War is going, but this penultimate chapter saved way too many details for next-to-last.

Grade: C+ (as in, “Cannot picture any other artist making those silly Neutrino hairstyles work this well”.)

Sunday, February 17, 2013

TMNT (Vol. 1) #62


 Publication date: August, 1993


Story: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Script: Jim Lawson and Peter Laird
Pencils: Jim Lawson
Inks: Keith Aiken
Letters: Mary Kelleher
Tones: Eric Talbot
Cover: A.C. Farley

“City at War, Part 13 of 13”

Summary:

Arriving at the farmhouse in Northampton, April, Casey and Shadow settle down for some rest.  April asks Casey what he wants to take back to their apartment in New York and Casey considers that it isn’t much.  The two have dinner, put Shadow to bed and kiss; rekindling their old romance for a more serious relationship.  Casey finds an old knife of Leo’s and April wonders where the Turtles might be.


The next day, April is swimming in the lake when something under the surface pulls her down.  She’s suddenly thrust into the air by Leo, Mike and Raph.  The Turtles, April and Casey reunite and the TMNT are introduced to Shadow (who takes an instant liking to Mikey).  The gang recounts their various adventures over the past year, though April wonders where Don is.  The Turtles point to the woods and tell her that he’s with Splinter.


The Turtles lead April, Casey and Shadow to the cave where Splinter and Don have been staying.  Leo, Mike and Raph are going to hitch a ride with Casey and April back to New York, but Don elects to stay in Northampton.  His leg is still broken and he needs time to mend his wounds and reflect upon everything that’s happened.  Splinter offers to stay as well and help him heal.  April tells Don that he’s welcome to stay in the farmhouse instead of the cave and turns to make the same offer to Splinter.  Splinter has vanished, though, and Don tells her that he has undergone a change since they last saw him.  Something happened to Splinter over the last year that has left him distant.

As the sun sets, everyone packs up and gets ready to go back to New York.  April asks for a minute alone and walks over to the edge of the forest.  She talks to the darkness in the hopes that Splinter can hear her.  She says that although her biological father is dead, in the past few years that she’s known him, she has always regarded Splinter as a father, too.  She tells Splinter that she loves him and says goodbye.  As she turns to walk away, Splinter steps out of the shadows.  He calls her his daughter and the two embrace.


Elsewhere, Mr. Buscheyev arrives at his new apartment in an assisted living facility.  Getting settled in, the old man looks out the window at the streets below and watches how life goes on.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 1) #61.  Though they’ll have adventures in-between, the main story continues in TMNT (Vol. 2) #1.

*The letters page makes mention of the Mirage book having no plans to bring back Shadow’s biological father.  Shadow’s father’s identity will be revealed in TMNT (Vol. 3) #6 (though whether that identity is canon to the Mirage continuity is up to you).


Review:

A momentous issue, as the original volume of TMNT finally concludes.  It really went out with a bang and, quite honestly, I don’t think any Mirage TMNT saga has ever rivaled “City at War”.  Perhaps they set the bar TOO high?

This was a slow and sweet epilogue that finally gets the gang back together and we can resume “business as usual”, though hopefully everyone will have learned something from their recent experiences.  Though for all the changes seen in the characters after this issue, few of those alterations end up sticking.  Despite now being a daddy, Casey has a few relapses in vigilante knucklehead territory until eventually taking back the hockey mask for good during Vol. 4 (and if you count Vol. 3 as canon, he gets back into his self-destructive drinking almost immediately).  April disappears back into the scenery once again until Vol. 4 resorts to some desperate storytelling to try and make her interesting again.  Splinter’s distant attitude never catches on and he returns to his role as zen master very quickly.

The only fallout from “City at War” that truly sticks, aside from the addition of Shadow Jones to the cast, is that the Turtles are now free to have any kind of adventure they want without the Foot Clan hanging over their heads.  The reality, though, is that even before the truce the Turtles were having any kind of adventure they wanted and the Foot only factored in when the writers felt like bringing them back.  Much remains the same, as the Turtles still have altercations with the Foot after this, though now the writers simply have to come up with contrived scenarios to momentarily break the truce for a few issues.  Still, the truce stays in effect, so I guess it counts as a lasting change.

I suppose I can’t really chalk that up as a failure of “City at War”.  This storyline took the characters about as far as they could go and it was a challenge to the writers to try and take them even *further*.  I felt Gary Carlson really pushed Raph forward during Vol. 3, but even that development was undone and rendered meaningless.  In the end, everybody reverts back to who they were before “City at War” began and the characters ultimately stagnate because they’ve run out of elbow room.  The shifting creative teams, early cancellations and extended periods of inactivity really take a toll on the narrative cohesion and we're constantly playing "one step forward, two steps backs".  Poor sales killed Vol. 2 almost as soon as it began. Vol. 3 hung on for a while, got cancelled and then got deleted from continuity.  Vol. 4 stayed on track but ultimately fulfilled none of its storylines due to Laird losing interest in the book and putting it on indefinite hiatus.  Vol. 1 is the only volume of TMNT to give us a satisfactory conclusion that ties up all of its loose ends.

The stories told afterward, while many of them are good, there's no longer an overarching direction to string them together; it's just the Turtles hopping from one random adventure to another.  A new volume starts with a new creative team that disregards the previous, that volume gets cancelled and then another volume from another team starts and the cycle continues.  After "City at War" what we get is fluctuating creative teams, character regression, false starts, early stops, prolonged hiatuses and ideas that are never afforded the time to bear fruit.

Basically, following "City at War", TMNT ceases to read like an indie comic and begins to read like a Big Two superhero comic for all the reasons cited above.

But when read together, Vol. 1, the Microseries and the first volume of Tales form this perfect microcosm of storytelling.  There are no loose ends leftover, the story flows and the characters grow and by the conclusion of "City at War", it all comes to a natural end.  For casual fans, this is a great stopping point because from here on out, you'll never again get that same feeling of natural, connected storytelling that feels like it's building toward something.

I won’t say that “City at War” is the end of good storytelling in the Mirage TMNT universe, but it is sort of the end of truly ambitious storytelling.  In a way, though, that actually fits one of the ultimate morals of “City at War”.  The meat of the TMNT storyline is complete; their war with the Foot Clan is over.  Yet “life goes on”, as it were.

Grade: A- (as in, “Although the assisted living people apparently dressed Mr. Buscheyev in a bowling shirt”.)

TMNT (Vol. 1) #61


 Publication date: July, 1993


Story: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird
Script: Jim Lawson and Peter Laird
Pencils: Jim Lawson
Inks: Jason Temujin Minor
Letters: Mary Kelleher
Tones: Eric Talbot
Cover: A.C. Farley

“City at War, Part 12 of 13”

Summary:

In the ruins of the Second Time Around shop, the Elite Guard is about to slit the helpless Karai’s throat.  Don realizes he can’t make it to her in time and, seeing a discarded machinegun by a dead Foot Soldier, understands that he has no choice.  Don shoots the Elite Guard and saves Karai, then throws the gun away in disgust.  Karai tries to help him up, but Don’s leg is broken.


Elsewhere in New York, April enters the apartment building she was looking at buying with her inherited fortune.  The owner, Mrs. Jones, greets April and gives her a tour.  She says she’d been looking to sell the place since her husband, Herb, died five years ago.  Mrs. Jones takes April down to the basement to introduce her to the handyman; her son, Arnold.  “Arnold”, of course, turns out to be Casey Jones.  Reunited at last, April and Casey embrace.  Mrs. Jones decides to get the paperwork ready.


Back in the Second Time Around shop, Leo and the final Elite Guard are having a one-on-one duel on an upper floor.  Leo slashes the Guard across his gut and the Guard, in return, disarms Leo and kicks him in the face.  Leo tackles the Guard through a hole in the floor and they both tumble down a story.  They fight hand-to-hand for a while until Leo finally takes the Guard from behind and slowly breaks his neck.  Having watched the battle from the floor above, Raph and Mike comment that it’s all over.

In the hospital, a nurse tells Mr. Buscheyev that the doctor will be discharging him soon.  Mr. Buscheyev packs his things and sits sullenly on his bed.


At the antique shop, Leo forms a splint for Don’s leg while Mike makes a travois to carry him out of the building.  Karai promises to fulfill her end of the bargain now that the Foot civil war is over; the Turtles will never be bothered by the Foot Clan again.  Mikey asks what Karai plans to do next.  She says that she’ll return to Japan to spread her daughter’s ashes in Asana Bay then she’ll get back to managing the Japanese branch of the Foot and restoring proper order to the organization.  Karai says that although she grieves for her daughter, her loyalty to the Foot doesn’t allot her much freedom.  She tells the Turtles that now that they are free from the shadow of the Shredder, they should use the opportunity well.  Leo assures her that they will.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 1) #60.  The story continues in TMNT (Vol. 1) #62.

*How Casey’s dad died will be revealed in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #56.  In that story, his father’s death will be retconned to have happened more than 5 years ago.

*Though Karai holds to her truce, the Turtles will continue to encounter rogue factions of the Foot from time to time.  They’ll meet a faction commanded by the Shark Shredder in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #33, Foot separatists will continue to make trouble in the “Gang Wars” arc beginning in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #36, a rogue Foot Soldier will seek revenge in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #5, the Oroku Family will seek to circumvent the truce in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2)#65 and, in the Image series, turmoil amongst dissenting members of the Foot hierarchy will momentarily break the truce in TMNT (Vol. 3) #22.

*Chronologically, Karai will appear next in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #43.

*In the branching Image continuity, surviving members of the Foot Elite Guard will return in TMNT (Vol. 3) #16.

*In the distant future, Karai-herself will finally break the truce in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #40.


Review:

“City at War” set the bar pretty high.  It took all the characters to their lowest point, explored them inside and out, then set them free to rise above their shortcomings and grow before our eyes.  Where the heck do you go from here?  That’s a problem the Mirage series never really succeeded in getting over (and a fact Karai and the Turtles discuss in the last pages of this issue).

But I’m getting ahead of myself.  That discussion is best saved for the next and last issue.  Here, we finally conclude the action and, even though it’s only 20 pages, the fight is pretty great.  I mentioned last review that these Foot Elite Guards seem like more of a handful than the Shredder and, indeed, Leo seems to have more trouble taking down the last Elite Guard than he did Oroku Saki.  Chalk it up to the nature of one-upsmanship; Lawson was obliged to draw a more epic battle than before and, as a result, a nameless Elite Guard comes off as a fiercer opponent than the Shredder ever was.

The brutality of the showdown is especially striking, as it devolves from a sword duel, to hand-to-hand, to straight-up dirty fighting.  While there’s grace and fluidity in Lawson’s layouts, the same can’t be said for the battle itself.  Leo loses his cool and in one panel looks like he’s trying to gouge the Elite Guard’s eyes out.  Then they tumble over a ledge, punch and kick each other and Leo finally triumphs not with some flashy ninja move, but by sloppily breaking the Guard’s neck from behind.  It really shows how the Turtles, even cool-as-a-cucumber Leo, have reached the end of their rope and are just unleashing themselves like beasts.

That’s also evident in Don’s takedown of the Elite Guard threatening Karai.  He breaks out a machinegun to save the day and feels disgust over what he’s been forced to do.  Don having an objection to firearms, admittedly, is something that’s never come up before now, and might have done better with some foreshadowing, but the reaction in the scene gets the idea across just fine.  Splinter didn’t raise them to use guns and he views them as the weapon of the enemy.

In my review for “Temps” I came down a little hard on the message of “City at War”, and I suppose I should elaborate here.  The story in itself is about consequences and how the cycle of violence inevitably leads to more violence; a never-ending circle.  And that's a great message which, when the arc begins, is very well illustrated.  My problem is that this penultimate issue essentially uses violence to end all violence, contradicting that message.  By slaughtering all their enemies, the Turtles are now free from the consequences of their past actions (save for a few isolated incidents here and there).  The moral ends up becoming, “violence only leads to more violence until you massacre all who stand in your way, and then you’re invincible”.

From the standpoint of delivering a message to the audience, the truce with Karai does more damage than good.  But, from the standpoint of telling an ongoing narrative about the Turtles, the truce offers a breath of fresh air.  We’ve reached an end to the Turtles vs. Foot Clan arc, at least for now, and that lets the Turtles set their baggage down and have all sorts of crazy new Foot-free adventures.  Of course, robbing TMNT of the Foot also ends up robbing the series of any discernible direction, but at least the potential was there.

Grade: A (as in, “And really, Mrs. Jones?  $850 a month for the cheapest rent?  In 1993 dollars?  That’d be $1,350 bucks a month, today!  And your max rent is $1,200 a month?  That’s $1,900 a month, now.  Your apartment building ain’t the Ritz, lady”.)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

TMNT Adventures #∞



Publication date: 1993


Story and inks (and layouts): Mike Hunt (Bill Fitts)
Pencils: Harry Ball (Dan Seneres)
Letters: Heywood Jablowme (Steve Lavigne)

“The Birds, the Bees and the Turtles!”

Summary:

Down in the sewer lair, Leo, Don and Mike are watching porn together and discussing where everyone has gone.  Raph is currently on vacation with Ninjara while Splinter has gone to see April about “something”.  Don and Mike both decide to go take a nap and tell Leo to wake them when it’s time for sparring practice.


At a hotel room, Raph is busy lighting up a joint when Ninjara comes out of the bathroom in stockings, crotchless panties and a dog collar.

At April’s apartment, Splinter knocks on the door.  April answers and Splinter asks if she can help him with something.

Back in the lair, Don sneaks into Mike’s room and the two Turtles begin making out.  Mike proceeds to suck Don’s dick because oh god why.  Leo decides that it’s time for sparring practice and storms into Mike’s room.  He catches the two having anal sex and slams the door in horror.  Leo panics and tries to call Raph’s hotel room for help.


Raph ignores the phone as he’s too busy with foreplay to notice.  Ninjara asks him to use that big “bo” of his and Raph proceeds to penetrate her, shouting “COWABUNGA” all the while.

Still panicking, Leo hurries over to April’s apartment to seek advice from Splinter.  He walks in on Splinter and April getting it on and proceeds to have a mental breakdown.  Waving a dildo angrily at Leo, Splinter scolds his supposedly brightest pupil for being the last of his brothers to learn “the ways of life”.  Leo says he doesn’t understand “the ways of life” so April agrees to teach him… with a blowjob.


Outside April’s window, Shredder watches Splinter and Leo double-team April and begins jerking off (carefully avoiding his razor-sharp cock ring).  Shredder shakes his free fist in defeat, cursing himself for always being left masturbating out in the cold.


Turtle Tips:

*This comic was created by Bill Fitts as a farewell gift to the Mirage staff and was not intended for commercial circulation.  Only 50 copies were published and it was distributed exclusively amongst Mirage employees.

*It languished in secrecy until Steve Murphy sold his copy on eBay back in 2009 and it was shared amongst the (bewildered) fandom at The Technodrome Forums.  Props to Archon Turtle for scanning and sharing this and traumatizing us all!

*This issue featured two bonus pin-ups by Seneres: One of Don and another Turtle drooling over an issue of “Playturtle”, and one of all four Turtles getting Ninjara a towel as she steps out of the shower.


Review:

Happy Valentine’s Day, everybody!

For those who don’t remember, Fitts and Seneres were the writer/artist duo behind the two Raph/Ninjara romance stories published in TMNT Adventures Special #10.  So naturally, they produced a TMNT Adventures porn comic in their spare time.  I mean, c’mon.  Wouldn’t you?

Luckily, I have a functional sense of humor, so I found this thing to be hilarious.  Gross, weird, insane… but hilarious.  I think what separates this from online smut, other than its pseudo-official publication, is that “The Birds, the Bees and the Turtles” was meant as a joke and not something to legitimately get off on.  I’m sure some creepy individuals at Mirage probably got off on it ANYWAY, but hey, whatever gets you through the night.  It’s full of gross-out humor, for sure, but damn if some of it wasn’t funny.  Little details like April’s arsenal of dildos and Shredder’s serrated cock ring… How can I NOT laugh?

It took 16 years for the existence of this thing to be revealed to the world at large.  It makes you wonder how many things like this are floating around out there, right?  Does Dave Sim have a dozen copies of an official Cerebus porn comic sitting in his dresser drawer?  After discovering that this comic exists, I’d believe just about anything.

On a related note, I wonder where the other 49 copies of “The Birds, the Bees and the Turtles” are?  They’ve got to be out there somewhere.  If you ever obtain a copy, you can always get Steve Lavigne to sign it for you at the next con he's invited to.  I’m sure he’d be thrilled.

Maybe someday IDW can reprint this along with the Ninjara serial published in that furry fap rag.  They could call it “TMNT Adventures: The Traumatizing Collection”.  I can't think of a single reason Nickelodeon wouldn't give the green light.