Saturday, January 30, 2016

TMNT (IDW) #54


Publication date: January 27, 2016

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Michael Dialynas
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow

"Order from Chaos, Part 4"

Summary:

In the secret munitions warehouse, Hun attacks Michelangelo, hellbent on revenge for everything the Turtles have put him through.  Old Hob stumbles in, too late to stop the fight.


At Mutanimal HQ, Mondo Gecko tells the others that Mikey went off to follow Hob in secret.  Man Ray and Herman the Hermit Crab share a worried glance, which Sally Pride immediately notices (though they deny hiding anything from her and the others).  At Sally’s insistence, all the Mutanimals (save Pigeon Pete, who is still cooking) leave to investigate.  Little do they know, they’re still being followed by the mysterious Agent Winter.

At the warehouse, Hob makes an attempt to calm Hun down, but Hun smacks him away and begins throttling Mikey.  Before Hun can beat Mikey to death, Slash arrives and the two go toe-to-toe.  At first, Hun has the upper hand, but then Slash devolves into a savage berserker and wrecks Hun.  Hob manages to calm Slash down by informing him that Hun is working for the Mutanimals.


The Mutanimals all want answers and Hob explains that their operation cannot survive without some sort of income.  Should they come up against Null or Stockman or some other nefarious group, they’ll need resources.  So he’s been stockpiling the weapons and goods they’ve stolen from the mob and used Hun to fence them on the black market.  Slash tells Hob that he understands his reasoning, however, he cannot be a member of an organization that puts weapons back on the streets.  As Slash leaves, Hob asks the others if they feel the same way.  The other Mutanimals express their concerns, but none choose to quit the team.  However, Sally demands more transparency from Hob in the future.

Once everyone leaves, Hob turns to Mikey and slashes him in the shoulder.  He tells Mikey that he won’t forget what he’s done and he will never forgive him.


Mikey goes to see Slash on the pier and asks if he’d like to come stay with him at the lair.  Slash says that in the past he’s been an experiment for Stockman and a soldier for Hob, but now he wants to find his own path.  He tells Mikey that he’ll always consider him his own personal hero and then slowly swims off into the distance.


In the waters off of Burnow Island, Colonel Knight introduces Sergeant Alex Winter to the leader of their organization: Agent Bishop.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #53.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #55.

*Colonel Knight originates from the Fred Wolf TMNT animated series.  He appeared in the season 8 episode "State of Shock".

*Agent Bishop originally appeared in the 4Kids TMNT animated series, premiering in the season 3 episode “Space Invaders, Part II”.  He went on to become a primary antagonist (and later ally) for that series.

*This issue was originally published with 4 variant covers: Regular Cover by Dialynas, Retailer Incentive Cover by Andrew Griffith and Pattison, Subscription Cover by Eastman and Pattison, and Eastman Fun Club Edition by Eastman.


Review:

This Michelangelo and the Mutanimals two-parter has been pretty great and I enjoyed it much more than the opening two-parter from this Brave New Era in the IDW TMNT series.  I think what helps is that the diverse cast of the Mutanimals are so much more colorful and vibrant than the, well, rather bland cast of the TMNT and their human allies.

I don’t mean that to disparage the Turtles, but there’s something you’ll see in the Mutanimals cast that you haven’t been seeing amongst the central TMNT cast.  The different members of the group don’t share the same relationships; they all play off of each other in unique ways.

Sally and Man Ray are friends because they came from the same place, but Ray isn’t above keeping things from her if he thinks it’s of strategic merit.  Hob, Herman and Ray have their own little “inner circle” among the Mutanimals where they plot out the group’s darker workings in private.  Herman, though fiercely loyal to Hob, feels sympathy toward his comrades, including Mutagen Man, and will die for any of them.  Mondo’s buds with everybody, but he isn’t sure he wants to keep on fighting despite his loyalties.  And so on and so on.

I mentioned this way back in a review from some years ago, but the IDW Turtles and their main human chums (April, Casey) don’t share the sort of friction between them that makes their interactions feel individually tailored.  They all get along.  You have a group of 9 or 10 characters (once you factor in Splinter, Nobody, Alopex, Harold, etc.) and they’re all just… friends.  Donatello should never interact with Casey Jones the same way Raphael does, otherwise everyone is just sort of spouting interchangeable dialogue.

We’ve been getting away from that lately, what with Michelangelo leaving the team, but there needs to be MORE of it.  Until then, the central cast is going to continue to be outshone by second stringers like the Mutanimals.

In terms of plot, we get a reminder of how pragmatic Hob is and exactly what his ultimate aims are, but he still isn’t a full on villain.  His goals are still altruistic, if a bit misguided.  And the strange bedfellows he’s been making aren’t helping.  It’s one of the things that’s made him the most complex character in the whole comic; he’s gotten the kind of development and progress that I suppose the main characters are exempt from. 

I’m sure if the writers grew and changed Raphael into something organic but unrecognizable as Raphael, Viacom would put the kibosh on that right quick.  The central characters sort of have to remain at a level of stagnancy or it just won’t be “them” anymore.  But IDW original characters like Hob can do and become whatever they want, and as a result, AGAIN, they’re becoming way more interesting than the central cast.

And then there’s Agent Bishop.  I think we all saw this coming, right?  A mysterious military-looking organization monitoring the Turtles and the Mutanimals, who ELSE could be leading them?

Bishop was one of the best original ideas to come out of the 4Kids series; maybe even THE best, depending on who you ask.  By the fourth season, he massively upped the ante as the main antagonist and outdid the Shredder in every way.  What was cool about him was that, much like Hob, he wasn’t a character of black and white (outside of his wardrobe).  He was in a grey area; everything he did was in the name of national security and he genuinely believed in the altruism of his cause.  Of course, that still brought him into conflict with the Turtles and he did some heinously nasty things throughout the series.

But that’s okay, because one time he got impaled on a fucking meat hook.  A MEAT HOOK.

He opens the door up to get the government or the military involved in these shenanigans, which should be interesting, as they’ve been absent throughout the IDW series so far (heck, even the cops have rarely shown up until now).  This could potentially complicate things in a fascinating way; if Bishop’s working through Dark Water then we’ve got one more faction to keep track of in this chess game of a series.

Dialynas did a fine job on the fight between Mikey and Hun.  There’s a nice two-page spread (made up of panels) that features Hun just totally wrecking Mikey’s shit.  It reminded me of the first season of the 4Kids cartoon, before Hun had begun to suffer from Villain Decay and was portrayed as a sort of unstoppable juggernaut.  You can see Mikey’s really trying in Dialynas’ layouts, but he can hardly scratch Hun.  Dialynas does good work on character expression, as Hun grows progressively more psychotic and Mikey gradually goes from cheerful and confident to shitting his shell.

Good arc!  Love these smaller two-parters; a nice break from the four-part or lengthy event formats.  Hope we see more of them in the future.

Grade: A- (as in, “Although with Slash gone, maybe Leatherhead can pick up the baton as ‘character who is really smart but turns into a mindless monster when angry’.  Can’t have two characters with the same shtick at the same time, after all”.)


Monday, January 25, 2016

Regarding all the article stubs



FYI, I realized I was falling way behind on a lot of these UK TMNT magazine reviews (the Panini comic and the older Titan comic).

So I'm making stubs for all the articles, that way it'll be easier to fill them in with summaries, reviews and necessary Turtle Tips later on.


TMNT Magazine (Panini) #35


Publication date: December 10, 2015 - January 6, 2016

Contents:

*"Terror Tale!"
*"Ask Mr. Ninja"


Turtle Tips:

*This issue is continued from TMNT Magazine (Panini) #34.  The series continues in TMNT Magazine (Panini) #36.


TMNT Magazine (Panini) #34


Publication date: November 12 - December 9, 2015

Script: Alec Worley
Art: Ryan James Neal
Colours: Kat Nicholson & Jason Cardy
Colour assist: R. Hogan & James Stayte
Letters: Alex Foot

"Robo Rumble!"

Summary:

Coming soon! (maybe)


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Magazine (Panini) #33.  The story continues in TMNT Magazine (Panini) #35.


Review:

Coming soon! (maybe)


TMNT Magazine (Panini) #33


Publication date: October 15 - November 11, 2015

Script: Alec Worley
Art: Iain Buchanan
Colours: Kat Nicholson & Jason Cardy
Colour assist: R. Hogan
Letters: Alex Foot

"Tag Trouble!"

Summary:

Coming soon! (maybe)


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Magazine (Panini) #32.  The story continues in TMNT Magazine (Panini) #34.


Review:

Coming soon! (maybe)


TMNT Magazine (Panini) #32


Publication date: September 17 - October 14, 2015

Script: Erik Burnham
Art: Iain Buchanan
Colours: Kat Nicholson & Jason Cardy
Colour assist: S.A.W., Emma Learner, James Stayte
Letters: Alex Foot

"Chomp!"

Summary:

In Central Park, the Turtles are battling it out with Snakeweed.  The mutant plant thinks he has the advantage, as the Turtles can't hit him with lightning on a clear night and there are no power sources anywhere close by.  Donatello proves him wrong, breaking out his new Sonic Zapper device which creates a powerful soundwave that causes him to explode.  Donnie assures his brothers that Snakeweed's still alive, but it'll take him a while to grow a new body.


As they leave, a trio of male mosquitoes (which feed on plants) take a drink from one of Snakeweed's severed limbs.  The mutagen-laced chlorophyll turns them into color-coordinated mosquito-plant-dog-things.  The mosquitoes want more food and follow the trail of Snakeweed's scent, left behind by Donnie when he took a fragment of the mutant back to the lair to study.


Down in the lair, Raphael and Leonardo are busy playing the new Battle Gnomes video game while Michelangelo feasts on pizza.  The mosquitoes steal the fragment of Snakeweed from Donnie's lab, but they're still hungry.  They find Mikey in the kitchen and he gives them a slice of pizza.  Liking it, the mosquitoes become ravenous, forcing Mikey to call for help.


Leo and Raph come to his aid, but now the mosquitoes are ready to move on to meat.  Donnie manages to trap them in a trash can until he can figure out how to calm them down.  Mikey gets an idea and feeds the mosquitoes plant food, hoping to satiate their appetites.  The chemicals in the plant food react with the mutagen and the mosquitoes combine into a giant three-headed man-eating plant monster.  Raph breaks out the Sonic Zapper and blows the mosquito-plant to pieces, but the soundwaves also shatter every piece of glass in the lair... including the TV he was going to play video games on.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Magazine (Panini) #31.  The story continues in TMNT Magazine (Panini) #33.

*Snakeweed mentions the time the Turtles zapped him with lightning in TMNT Magazine (Panini) #2.


Review:

Man, I have really fallen behind on reviewing these Panini comics.  I think they're almost up to 60 issues now and here I am, still stuck in the early 30s.  But they're just so boring...

This installment didn't have a lot going for it, but at least it seemed to realize how lame a villain Snakeweed is.  He's discarded by the first page and a new threat is introduced to carry the plot.  It's still a bunch of killer planet monsters, which is a lateral move from Snakeweed, but I guess it was a breath of fresh air.

I'll give Burnham credit in that his script's pacing fit a lot in for what's ultimately a short story (even at double-length, this comic is only 12 pages).  It's very economical and the plot MOVES.  It's just that it moves in a predictable pattern and there are no twists or turns.  I mean, jeez, they kill the mosquito mutants at the end by remembering "Hey, don't we have a weapon designed to kill plant mutants that we just used a few hours ago to kill another plant mutant?"

Perhaps now you can see why I'm struggling to review these things.


TMNT Magazine (Panini) #31


Publication date: August 20 - September 16, 2015

Script: Sholly Fisch
Art: Bob Molesworth
Colours: Kat Nicholson & Jason Cardy
Colour assist: James Stayte, S.A.W., Ed Pirrie
Letters: Alex Foot

"Sub-Zero Hero"

Summary:

It's July and New York City is experiencing a freak Summer blizzard.  Using a tracking device built by Donatello, the Turtles head to the rooftops to search for answers.  They eventually find the Kraang operating a weather control device out of an old warehouse and swoop in through the skylight to stop them.


Unfortunately, being cold blooded, the freezing temperatures have hit the Turtles extra hard, slowing them down to the point where they can't out-maneuver the Kraangdroids.  Luckily, Michelangelo packed a secret weapon: Ice Cream Kitty!  Raphael and Leonardo are incredulous as to Kitty's effectiveness, but she soon proves her worth by sliming all the Kraangdroids with her ice cream.

The Kraangdroids decide to speed up their operation and crank the weather controller into overdrive.  Snow comes pouring in through the open skylight and is absorbed by Ice Cream Kitty, causing her to grow to massive size.  She easily crushes the Kraangdroids and so they try to destroy her by reversing the weather controller to cause a heat wave.


Ice Cream Kitty shrinks as she melts, but the heat revitalizes the Turtles and they finish off the last of the Kraangdroids.  Donatello and Raphael then destroy the weather controller, but Michelangelo is concerned that Ice Cream Kitty has melted too much and wants to get her home ASAP.

Later, down in the lair, April arrives with the last of the frozen pizzas from the grocery store.  Mikey piles the pizzas onto Ice Cream Kitty; the cold restoring her to her proper temperature and the calcium from the cheese revitalizing her dairy elements.  Donnie compliments Mikey for coming up with a good idea, but Mikey insists that there's no problem pizza can't solve (as he tries to bite into a frozen pie).


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Magazine (Panini) #30.  The story continues in TMNT Magazine (Panini) #32.

*Raphael mentions that Ice Cream Kitty has saved them before.  She did so most recently in TMNT Magazine (Panini) #21.


Review:

By most metrics, this wouldn't be a very good issue.  But you have to factor in the Ice Cream Kitty curve; the presence of Ice Cream Kitty in any capacity effectively improves upon a given story.  Or maybe I just like Ice Cream Kitty.

The Kraang employing stupid doomsday schemes which the Turtles have to thwart feels like a throwback to the earliest days of Panini's TMNT Magazine, where it was just issue after issue of precisely that.  While I'm still a little burned out on such stories, it was a bit of a reminder of how much simpler the roster and storylines for this universe used to be.  The Kraang operating a weather control machine may or may not be a reference to Krang's weather control device from the Fred Wolf cartoon, but then, "weather control device" is one of the most cliched weapons of any villain organization.  So it could as easily be a coincidence.

Although we're still in the season two era with these comics, and about four issues away from TMNT Magazine transitioning into the season three storyline, Mikey makes a reference to Crognar, which was the season three "show within a show".

...I dunno.  It's not even an interesting note, I'm just trying to fill this space up.

Anyhow, I'll try and plow through the last of these season two era TMNT Magazine comics.  Hopefully the season three era comics will be a bit more interesting.  Or at least have better artists.


TMNT Magazine (Panini) #30


Publication date: July 23 - August 19, 2015

Contents:

*"April in a Half Shell"
*"Master Splinter's Evening"


Turtle Tips:

*This issue is continued from TMNT Magazine (Panini) #29.  The series continues in TMNT Magazine (Panini) #31.



TMNT Magazine (Panini) #29


Publication date: June 25 - July 22, 2015

Script: Erik Burnham
Art: Iain Buchanan
Colours: Kat Nicholson and Jason Cardy
Colour assist: Ed Pirrie & Emma Learner
Letters: Alex Foot

"Nothing up his Sleeve!"

Summary:

The Turtles are out patrolling the rooftops when they hear a couple pedestrians below talk about a street magician.  Michelangelo convinces his brothers to check the magician out and they quickly locate Xemnar the Magnificent doing his act.  Xemnar tricks a member of the audience into thinking he swiped his watch and returned it, while in reality, the crooked illusionist picked his pocket.  Seeing this, Leonardo tells his brothers to corner Xemnar as soon as he makes his leave and get the stolen goods back.


As Xemnar escapes into an alley, the Turtles confront him.  Raphael tussles with him and pulls off a mask, revealing that Xemnar is actually a mutant white rabbit.  Using his jumping abilities, Xemnar leaps to the rooftops and escapes.  However, he leaves behind his duffel bag and lucky charm (a rabbit key chain).  The Turtles then spend the rest of the night discreetly returning the wallets to their owners.

At Xemnar's apartment, the magician is ticked that the Turtles have delayed his trip to Las Vegas, as well as stolen his lucky charm.  He decides to get a new one and begins looking through the paper for an idea.

Down in the lair, Donatello and Leonardo are trying to predict Xemnar's next move, with all evidence pointing to the upper west side, though they aren't sure exactly where he'll be.  Mikey has another suggestion and, dressing like a wizard, claims they should fight magic with magic.  He does a simple disappearing ball trick (hidden up his sleeve), but the use of rudimentary misdirection gives Leo an idea.  Leo realizes that Xemnar is also using misdirection and Donnie figures he's probably targeting the lower east side.


Later, at a jewelry store in the lower east side, Xemnar pockets a diamond rabbit broach he saw advertised in the paper.  He starts to loot the rest of the jewels when the Turtles drop in from the skylight.  They figured his misdirection ruse and began looking up likely targets in the lower east side; the jewelry store with the diamond rabbit being the obvious choice.  Xemnar leaps toward the skylight to escape but is blocked by Mikey.

Xemnar is quickly tied up and left for the cops as Mikey suggests that he should have spent less time studying slight of hand and more time studying escape tricks.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Magazine (Panini) #28.  The story continues in TMNT Magazine (Panini) #30.


Review:

With this story, Erik Burnham creates the most 80s-est of 80s TMNT toyline characters that never existed.  A mutant white rabbit with a stage magician gimmick is so damn obvious in retrospect, I can't believe we never got it back in the day.  We got a pilot duck, an African elephant witch doctor, an outback survivalist kangaroo and a Mountie moose, but no magician rabbit?  Someone at Playmates was sleeping on the job.

Admittedly, "Xemnar" isn't a very catchy or marketable name.  I think Burnham knew that and was playing around with it, as there are several BETTER names offered to him throughout the story.  "Sorcerabbit", "Robin Hare" and "Hare-y Houdini".  Okay, not exactly top tier stuff but its on par with "Monty Moose".

The story fits in nicely with the season two storyline about weird mutants popping up every which where thanks to the scattered mutagen canisters, so Xemnar's origin never needs explaining.  Mutants were also becoming a public scourge that season, so the idea of an anthropomorphic rabbit being left for the cops to arrest isn't so out of the question, either.  Maybe without any knowledge of the cartoon and read in a vacuum, "Nothing Up His Sleeve!" is a little bewildering, but this comic has been a supplement to the cartoon since Day One so cut it some slack.

The plot holds together well, all conveniences and cliches aside (there's the "character says something nonchalantly and his words inspire another character to find the solution to the problem that's been vexing him" thing, but at least we were spared the "Mikey, you're a GENIUS!" dialogue that usually accompanies the tired gag).  It's certainly not a challenging story, but it isn't filled with plot holes and nonsense, falling back on the "it's for kids so it's okay if its shit" excuse a lot of writers of these types of comics give.  So I appreciate that.

Buchanan's art is what it's been in the past few issues.  Rather listless and not particularly emotive.  His layouts on the pages where Xemnar shows off his jumping powers look pretty good, but the finishes drain most of the kinetic energy from them.

Anyway, it's always good to get a new mutant villain in addition to the ones seen in the cartoon.  Xemnar's better than Slug, at any rate.



Sunday, January 17, 2016

TMNT Amazing Adventures #6


Publication date: January 13, 2016

Contents:

*"Tea-Time for a Turtle, Part 2"
*"The Tournament"


Turtle Tips:

*This issue is continued from TMNT Amazing Adventures #5.  The series continues in TMNT Amazing Adventures #7.

*This issue was originally published with 2 variant covers: Regular Cover by Jon Sommariva, and Subscription Cover by Billy Martin.


Saturday, January 16, 2016

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1987) Viewing Order


Foreword:

The 1987 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, the one produced by Fred Wolf, had a strange broadcast history.  Some of it aired on CBS Saturday mornings.  Some of it aired in syndication on weekday afternoons.  Some of it aired on the USA Network on weekday mornings.  And some of it even got the Prime Time Special treatment.

As a result, the episodes were badly, badly jumbled up from what their narrative chronology should have been.  Not that there WAS much narrative chronology for most of the show’s run.  While the bookending seasons did have legitimate serialized story arcs, the majority of the episodes from seasons 3 through 7 were episodic with only the occasional multi-parter and season finale to define the order of events.

That said, what little continuity there WAS in those seasons was ravaged, particularly during season 4, and viewing the show in either the broadcast or catalog orders will leave you confounded.  So, having watched through the whole series and reviewed every last episode, I figured I’d try to assemble a workable viewing order along the way.

Keep in mind that TMNT had what can only be charitably described as “lax” story editing.  There are a lot of irreconcilable continuity errors and contradictions which no amount of creative reordering can repair.  My goal was to restore what felt like the “intended” sequence of episodes with maybe a little bit of liberal dot-connecting and imaginative bridging on my part.

Rather than break the episodes up by season, I decided to organize them by the location of the Technodrome or the standing of the main villains.  See the Notes section at the end of the article for explanations about the order or various anomalies.


The Epic Begins



  • Turtle Tracks
  • Enter the Shredder
  • A Thing About Rats
  • Hot Rodding Teenagers from Dimension X
  • Shredder & Splintered

The Technodrome in Dimension X


  • Return of the Shredder
  • The Case of the Killer Pizzas
  • The Incredible Shrinking Turtles
  • It Came from Beneath the Sewers
  • The Mean Machines
  • Curse of the Evil Eye
  • Enter: The Fly
  • New York's Shiniest
  • Splinter No More
  • Invasion of the Punk Frogs
  • Teenagers from Dimension X
  • The Catwoman from Channel 6
  • Return of the Technodrome

The Technodrome at the Earth's Core


  • Beneath These Streets
  • The Old Switcheroo
  • Burne's Blues
  • Turtles on Trial
  • April Fool
  • Sky Turtles
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Irma
  • The Maltese Hamster
  • The Fifth Turtle
  • Enter the Rat King
  • Turtles at the Earth's Core
  • Attack of the Big MACC
  • The Ninja Sword of Nowhere
  • 20,000 Leaks Under the City
  • Take me to Your Leader
  • Four Musketurtles
  • Turtles, Turtles, Everywhere
  • Cowabunga Shredhead
  • Invasion of the Turtle Snatchers
  • Camera Bugged
  • Green with Jealousy
  • Return of the Fly
  • Casey Jones - Outlaw Hero
  • Mutagen Monster
  • Corporate Raiders from Dimension X
  • Pizza by the Shred
  • Super Bebop and Mighty Rocksteady
  • Beware the Lotus
  • Blast from the Past
  • Leatherhead, Terror of the Swamp
  • Michelangelo's Birthday
  • Usagi Yojimbo
  • Case of the Hot Kimono
  • Usagi Come Home
  • The Making of Metalhead
  • Leatherhead Meets the Rat King
  • The Turtle Terminator
  • The Great Boldini
  • The Missing Map
  • The Gang's All Here
  • The Grybyx
  • Mister Ogg Goes to Town
  • Shredderville
  • Bye, Bye, Fly
  • The Big Rip Off
  • The Big Break In
  • The Big Blow Out

The Technodrome on the Dimension X Planetoid (European Vacation)


  • Plan 6 from Outer Space
  • Tower of Power
  • Rust Never Sleeps
  • Venice on the Halfshell
  • Ring of Fire
  • Shredder's New Sword
  • The Irish Jig is Up
  • Elementary, my Dear Turtle
  • April Gets in Dutch
  • Northern Lights out
  • Turtles on the Orient Express
  • The Lost Queen of Atlantis
  • Artless
  • A Real Snow Job

The Technodrome on the Dimension X Planetoid (Trapped in Lava)


  • The Dimension X Story
  • Son of Return of the Fly II
  • Turtles of the Jungle
  • Michelangelo Toys Around
  • Peking Turtle
  • Shredder's Mom
  • Four Turtles and a Baby
  • Turtlemaniac
  • Rondo in New York
  • Beyond the Donatello Nebula
  • Planet of the Turtles
  • Name that Toon
  • Menace Maestro, Please
  • Super Hero for a Day
  • Back to the Egg
  • The Turtles and The Hare
  • Once Upon a Time Machine
  • Raphael Knocks 'Em Dead!
  • Bebop and Rocksteady Conquer the Universe
  • Raphael Meets his Match
  • Leonardo Lightens Up
  • Were-Rats from Channel 6
  • Funny, They Shrunk Michelangelo
  • The Big Zipp Attack
  • Donatello Makes Time
  • Farewell, Lotus Blossom!
  • Rebel Without a Fin
  • Rhino-Man
  • Michelangelo Meets Bugman
  • Slash – The Evil Turtle from Dimension X
  • Poor Little Rich Turtle
  • What's Michelangelo Good For?
  • Donatello's Degree
  • The Big Cufflink Caper!
  • Leonardo Versus Tempestra
  • Splinter Vanishes
  • Raphael Drives 'em Wild
  • Big Bug Blunder
  • The Foot Soldiers Are Revolting
  • Unidentified Flying Leonardo
  • My Brother the Bad Guy

The Technodrome Frozen in the Arctic Chasm


  • Enter: Mutagen Man
  • Michelangelo Meets Mondo Gecko
  • Donatello's Badd Time
  • Michelangelo Meets Bugman Again
  • Muckman Messes Up
  • Napoleon Bonafrog: Colossus of the Swamps
  • Raphael Versus The Volcano
  • Landlord of the Flies
  • Donatello's Duplicate
  • Leonardo Cuts Loose
  • Pirate Radio
  • Raphael, Turtle of a Thousand Faces
  • Leonardo, the Renaissance Turtle
  • Zach and the Alien Invaders
  • Welcome Back, Polarisoids
  • Michalangelo, the Sacred Turtle
  • The Ice Creature Cometh
  • Leonardo is Missing
  • Planet of the Turtleoids: Part 1
  • Planet of the Turtleoids: Part 2
  • Rock Around the Block

The Technodrome on the Ocean Floor


  • Krangenstein Lives!
  • Super Irma
  • Adventures in Turtle-Sitting
  • Sword of Yurikawa
  • Return of the Turtleoid
  • Shreeka's Revenge
  • Too Hot to Handle
  • Nightmare in the Lair
  • Phantom of the Sewers
  • Donatello Trashes Slash
  • Snakes Alive!
  • Polly Wanna Pizza?
  • Mr. Nice Guy
  • Sleuth on the Loose
  • Night of the Dark Turtle
  • The Starchild
  • The Legend of Koji
  • Convicts from Dimension X
  • White Belt, Black Heart
  • Night of the Rogues
  • Attack of the Neutrinos
  • Revenge of the Fly
  • Dirk Savage: Mutant Hunter
  • Invasion of the Krangazoids
  • Combat Land
  • Escape from the Planet of the Turtleoids
  • Atlantis Awakes
  • Shredder Triumphant

The Technodrome in the Dimension X Black Hole


  • Get Shredder
  • Wrath of the Rat King
  • State of Shock
  • Cry H.A.V.O.C.!
  • H.A.V.O.C. in the Streets
  • Enter: Krakus
  • Cyber-Turtles
  • Turtle Trek

Lord Dregg: Friend of Humanity


  • The Unknown Ninja
  • Dregg of the Earth
  • The Wrath of Medusa
  • The New Mutation
  • The Showdown
  • Split-Second
  • Carter, the Enforcer
  • Doomquest

Lord Dregg: Foe of Humanity


  • The Return of Dregg
  • The Beginning of the End
  • The Power of Three
  • A Turtle in Time
  • Turtles to the Second Power
  • Mobster from Dimension X
  • The Day the Earth Disappeared
  • Divide and Conquer


NOTES:


The Epic Begins

*There’s nothing to note about the continuity of season 1.  It aired as a five-part miniseries, so the chronology is intuitive.  Since the Technodrome wasn’t “stuck” anywhere this season, I took this segment’s title from the VHS tape that (crudely) compiled the first season into a “movie”.

*In the end, the Technodrome is sucked into Dimension X.


The Technodrome in Dimension X

*Season 2 has one major story arc with tight continuity and then a second "arc" with much looser continuity.  The first arc is the Eye of Sarnath multi-parter and its continuity is intuitive (spanning "The Incredible Shrinking Turtles" through "Curse of the Evil Eye").  It's the looser second half of the season that inspired some episode shuffling, even if on the surface it might not seem like anything was needed.

*"Case of the Killer Pizzas" took some thinking.  It was originally slotted between "Curse of the Evil Eye" (where Baxter Stockman betrays Shredder) and "Enter: The Fly" (where Baxter is banished to Dimension X for his failures).  Thematically, "Enter: The Fly" is a better followup to "Curse of the Evil Eye", as Shredder gets revenge on Baxter for betraying him.  "Case of the Killer Pizzas" also features a line from Shredder to Baxter, swearing to "make a ninja out of you yet".  This actually works as a followup to "Return of the Shredder", where Shredder's original goal upon returning to Earth was to rebuild his ninja army.  The only problem is that the episode opens with Krang sending resources to Shredder, as he deems him incapable of functioning on his own; an event that makes a bit more sense as a later season episode than at the beginning.  So it was give or take, but I think "Case" fits in better before the Eye of Sarnath arc.

*The second half of the season requires a bit more attention to get the continuity straight, but there's definitely a chronology.  A recurring theme in the season is Irma's desire to meet the Turtles, so episodes like "New York's Shiniest" have to take place before she meets them in "The Catwoman of Channel 6".

*"Splinter No More" sees the Shredder making his first effort to open a portal to Dimension X while "Invasion of the Punk Frogs" has Splinter say that they now know the Shredder is attempting to return the Technodrome to Earth, so those two pair together nicely.  "Teenagers from Dimension X" is another episode where Shredder tries to open a portal to Dimension X, so it has to take place after his first attempt.

*"The Catwoman from Channel 6", as mentioned, sees Irma finally meeting the Turtles after pining for them all season, so it should come near the end.  It also features a line from Krang boasting about the Technodrome's imminent return to Earth, so it makes for a solid prelude to the season finale "Return of the Technodrome" (which ultimately sees it buried at the Earth's core).


The Technodrome at the Earth’s Core

*There is very little episode-to-episode continuity in season 3, so it required only minor rearranging.  That said, there were a few bits of discontinuity to fix-up.

*In “The Old Switcheroo”, Donatello doesn’t recognize the Driller Module and Splinter remarks that the location of the Technodrome is a mystery, so I felt it ought to occur near the very beginning of the season.

*In “Burne’s Blues”, Shredder and Krang begin a brief arc where they need to fix the Technodrome’s air conditioner.  In “Turtles on Trial”, they steal the part needed to fix it.  And in “April Fool”, the episode opens with Shredder mentioning that even though the AC is fixed, it’s still damn hot in the Technodrome.  So these episodes have to happen in succession.

*I placed “Sky Turtles” in the sixth spot of the season because of an off-hand joke from “Enter the Rat King” where Donatello references the events of “Sky Turtles” as episode 6.  Obviously it could not be the sixth episode of the series, but shuffling it to the sixth for the season didn’t hurt.  They’d try this same gag later with “Slash – The Evil Turtle from Dimension X”, but in that case the numbers will be so far off that you can’t accommodate the joke.  This is me stupidly trying too hard.

*“Green with Jealousy” ends with the Technodrome stealing a tiny bit of energy.  “Return of the Fly” opens with the Technodrome using its last bit of energy to reposition itself.  The episodes were already ordered in succession, so I didn’t have to rearrange anything.  I just thought I’d point that out.

*“The Big Rip Off”, “The Big Break In” and “The Big Blow Out” are a three-parter that ends with the Technodrome being banished to Dimension X once more; this time lodged in the side of a planetoid.


The Technodrome on the Dimension X Planetoid (European Vacation)

*These episodes aired in Japan and parts of Europe alongside the season 4 episodes, where they chronologically take place, but were not broadcast in the United States until season 7 (where they aired on the USA Network).  The 13 European Vacation episodes take place after “Plan 6 from Outer Space” (the first episode of season 4), which ends with the Turtles winning the trip to Europe.

*There is no logic to their trek across Europe whatsoever; they backtrack frequently and the dates provided in certain episodes would have them bouncing between summer-winter-spring like crazy.  I chose to go with the order created by Danish TMNT fan “Danetello”, who organized a more reasonable mapping of their progress across Europe (accounting for seasons and dates).

*That said, even his order had a continuity error in it, as April leaves Paris in “Venice on the Half Shell” which forces it to take place near the start of the European Vacation cycle.  As a result, my order has the Turtles going from Paris, to Italy, to Portugal, which is pretty counter-intuitive if you look at a map.  But jeez, there’s really no way to rectify much of this season (for example: the first two episodes, “Tower of Power” and “Rust Never Sleeps”, are completely incompatible with each other as they tell alternate versions of the Turtles arriving in Paris and the Shredder finding out that they’re there).


The Technodrome on the Dimension X Planetoid (Trapped in Lava)

*The first 13 episodes of season 4 aired in syndication while the rest of the episodes aired on CBS Saturday mornings.  The syndicated episodes were the last to use the original title sequence and episode title cards.  So, unfortunately, shuffling the syndicated and Saturday morning season 4 episodes around will result in jumbled title sequences.

*Okay, so about the Technodrome and the volcano.  The Technodrome gets trapped in solidified lava in “The Dimension X Story”, an episode that for whatever reason is cataloged near the end of season 4.  I went through every episode of this season and looked at all the establishing shots of the Technodrome, trying to determine which episodes took place before the volcanic eruption and which episodes took place afterward.  I took screenshots, listened to dialogue for the word “lava”, compiled lists, revised them, and what was my conclusion?

*There is no way to tell.  Establishing shots from “Plan 6 from Outer Space”, an episode that occurs before the volcano erupts, are reused in episodes that take place after the Technodrome has been buried in lava (the characters even mention the lava problem in the dialogue).  Some episodes will use establishing shots where the Technodrome is buried in lava, then later use establishing shots where it isn’t.

*So I just gave up.  And even then, some of those establishing shots where the Technodrome is “free” aren’t even that clear, as half the time the background painter still rendered the Technodrome as buried or wedged into the mountainside.  So you can’t particularly tell one way or the other.  I just moved “The Dimension X Story” to the start of the post-European Vacation episodes and was done with it.

*That said, “Son of Return of the Fly II” has to take place immediately after “The Dimension X Story” because the episode opens with Shredder and Krang reeling from the eruption and trying to get a status report on the Technodrome.

*I shuffled “Beyond the Donatello Nebula” toward the start of the season because it features a subplot where Donatello is searching for alien turtle life.  “Planet of the Turtles” opens with him having found it, so the two episodes go together pretty well.

*“Name That Toon” and “Menace Maestro, Please” are a two-parter and have to go together.

*“The Turtles and the Hare” and “Once Upon a Time Machine” are also a two-parter.  Combined, they formed the “Awesome Easter”, as it was called on VHS.  These episodes aired between seasons 4 and 5 (but are cataloged as season 5).  However, they have the original title sequence and title cards which were discontinued after the syndicated episodes of season 4, which is why I put them near the start of the season.

*A recurring character named Morgan J. Lofty appears in 3 episodes this season, but the order of his appearances was screwed up.  His first appearance should be in “The Big Zipp Attack” (where the Turtles save him and his skyscraper).  His next appearance is either “Rebel Without a Fin” (where he tells the Turtles, “You’ve done it again”) or “Slash – The Evil Turtle from Dimension X” (where he tells the Turtles, “This isn’t the first time you’ve helped me”).  “Slash – The Evil Turtle from Dimension X” aired before the other two, hence why I had to rearrange them.

*Incidentally, in the season 6 episode, “Donatello Trashes Slash”, Michelangelo jokingly mentions that they first met Slash in episode 74.  Unfortunately, there’s no manner of shuffling that can force “Slash – The Evil Turtle from Dimension X” into the #74 spot; not without messing up existing continuity.  So I couldn’t pull a “Sky Turtles” with this one.

*“My Brother the Bad Guy” is a season 5 episode.  Normally, the seasons would end with the Technodrome getting displaced, but season 4 ended on a non-finale for some reason and the Technodrome got waylaid in the Arctic chasm in the season 5 opener.


The Technodrome Frozen in the Arctic Chasm

*Most of these episodes are from season 5 and yes, I shuffled “Enter: Mutagen Man” ahead of “Michelangelo Meets Mondo Gecko”.  I just felt that this segment of my list should open with a Shredder/Krang story.  I indulged myself.  Forgive me.

*“Landlord of the Flies” is one of those episodes with irreconcilable continuity that I was talking about.  It takes place after “Son of Return of the Fly II” but will be ignored completely by the season 7 episode “Revenge of the Fly” (which will also pick up where “Son of Return of the Fly II” left off).  This is what I have to work with here, people.

*For most of season 5, the Technodrome is lodged in the bottom of a dark, icy chasm.  In “The Ice Creature Cometh”, it briefly escapes from the chasm and into the light of day, only to be frozen in place by a melting ice monster.  Any episode with an establishing shot that showed the Technodrome not in that chasm, but in the light of day, I shuffled to the end of the season.

*“Leonardo is Missing” is a season 6 episode, but it features the Technodrome in the arctic, so it takes place during season 5.

*I had a little trouble with “Planet of the Turtleoids”.  It was a prime time special that aired at the start of season 5, then was broken into two-parts and rebroadcast on Saturday mornings in the middle of the season.  Even more confusing, it is officially cataloged as being the finale of season 5.  The establishing shot sees the Technodrome lodged in rocks, rather than ice, though the villains still use Driller Modules to get around, so they aren’t in Dimension X or anything.  It’s a weird anomaly, but since the Technodrome is in the light of day and not at the bottom of a chasm, I guess it goes at the end of the season (as it is cataloged).

*Like season 4, season 5 didn’t have a real finale (since “Planet of the Turtleoids” never actually aired as a finale).  So “Rock Around the Block”, the season 6 opener, is the one that waylays the Technodrome on the ocean floor for the next stretch of episodes.


The Technodrome on the Ocean Floor

*The Technodrome remained on the ocean floor for seasons 6 and 7.  I already mentioned that the European Vacation episodes aired during season 7 in the US and are officially cataloged as season 7 episodes, but they aren’t part of the “real” season 7.  “Night of the Dark Turtle” is the first episode of season 7, at least as it was broadcast on CBS.

*Incidentally, as another bit of irreconcilable continuity, the European Vacation episode “The Lost Queen of Atlantis” and the season 7 episode “Atlantis Awakes” feature two completely different depictions of Atlantis.  And neither episode is aware of the other.

*There aren’t any multi-parters or necessary continuity to this season.  However, “Escape from the Planet of the Turtleoids” ends with the Technodrome stealing a little bit of power.  “Atlantis Awakes” sees the Technodrome using its last bit of power to attack Atlantis.  I figured much like “Green with Jealousy” and “Return of the Fly”, they’d go together fairly well so I shuffled them that way.  I moved “Atlantis Awakes” down to just before “Shredder Triumpant” because the active Technodrome seemed like a good primer for the season finale.

*The season ends with the Technodrome getting launched back into Dimension X, but stranding Shredder and Krang on Earth.


The Technodrome in the Dimension X Black Hole

*Season 8 is the beginning of the “red sky” era where the series got a redesign and a more “serious” edge.  This season, and all that follow, have a strict episode-to-episode continuity so there’ll be no more reorganizing from the cataloged order.

*This season features Shredder and Krang as the main villains (save a three-parter featuring the terrorist group H.A.V.O.C.), trying to get the Technodrome out of Dimension X (where it is lodged in a black hole).  In the end, they're banished to Dimension X and the Technodrome is destroyed for good.


Lord Dregg: Friend of Humanity

*Season 9 is the first of the seasons to see Lord Dregg as the primary antagonist. 

*In this season, he pretends to be a friendly alien out to help the Earth.  Of course, he just wants to take it over.  April exposes him in the finale.


Lord Dregg: Foe of Humanity

*Season 10, the final season, features Dregg forgoing any pretenses of deception and trying to take the Earth by force. 

*Shredder and Krang return for a three-parter, but are ultimately banished to Dimension X once and for all.  By the series finale, Dregg's followers abandon him, the Turtles succeed in defeating him and they graduate from ninja training as Splinter's equals.


Other Stuff


*There have been appearances from the 1987 Turtles outside of the TMNT series proper.  I didn’t include these appearances because most of them are a bit too, uh, “meta”.  Yes, even by this show’s standards.

*For example, “Cartoon All-Stars to the Rescue” features Michelangelo, yeah, but in the “real world” where he teams up with Alvin and the Chipmunks, Garfield, Slimer and Alf to convince a teenager that marijuana will destroy him and his entire family.  Just… no.

*The “Turtle Tips” PSAs aired during season 4 as a bridge between episodes (TMNT was broadcast in a one-hour block during that season).  I mean… I GUESS those PSAs could take place during the show, but they feature the characters talking directly to the audience.  I mean, more so than usual.

*The “Mutant Turtles: Superman Legend” anime OVAs, a two-episode series, feature some incompatible continuity… even between their two episodes.  The first episode features the Technodrome underground, the second episode has it in Dimension X.  The OVAs were released after Japan stopped dubbing the American cartoon, so I view them as a splinter timeline branching off from “Donatello’s Badd Time” (the last episode dubbed in Japanese).

*All that being said, I would definitely say the 4Kids-produced “Turtles Forever” film and the various cameos/crossovers with the Nickelodeon TMNT cartoon are “canon”.  However, the writers for those stories play very loosely with continuity that would contradict or impact the Fred Wolf timeline.

*For instance, “Turtles Forever” concludes with the Technodrome returning to the Fred Wolf universe, but retaining the upgrades the 4Kids Shredder imposed upon it. 

*The cameo in the Nickelodeon season 2 episode “Wormquake!” could really take place anywhere between Fred Wolf season 3 (because Casey Jones appears) and season 7 (because the Turtles are drawn in their pre-“red sky” designs). The Nickelodeon season 4 episode "Trans-Dimensional Turtles" is in a similar boat, though it features a completely revised origin for the Fred Wolf incarnation of Krang.  You just kind of have to roll with it.


Thursday, January 14, 2016

TMNT (1987) Season 10 Review: The FINAL Season!


This is it, people!  The last season of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon!

Check my review of TMNT (1987) Season 10 at AIPT!

The series ends on a tremendous high note; I think only "Mobster from Dimension X" stuck out to me as being lame.  There's a lot of continuity between these episodes (it's practically a miniseries) and in addition to tying up all the loose ends, we get a legitimate finale.  With closure, even!

So after 193 episodes of watching and 3 years of writing, I'm finally done.

Now I can get married and have kids and go skydiving and do all those other things I was putting off until I'd finished watching the damn 1980s Ninja Turtles cartoon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Batman/TMNT #2


Publication date: January 13, 2016

Script: James Tynion IV
Art and cover: Freddie E. Williams II
Colors: Jeremy Colwell
Letters: Tom Napolitano
Variant cover: Kevin Eastman and Tomi Varga
Assistant editor: David Pina
Group editor: Jim Chadwick

“Last Turtle Standing”

Summary:

In the streets, the Turtles take on Batman and get absolutely wrecked.  Batman accuses them of attacking the laboratories, but Leonardo insists they were trying to stop the evil ninja.  Splinter eventually shows up and, after matching Batman blow for blow, uses a smoke bomb to get himself and his sons out of sight.  Batman, having secured one of Raphael’s sais, decides to go to an expert for answers.


At an arcade/internet cafĂ©, Donatello does some research and discovers that Batman is a vigilante superhero (who punches clowns), which of course makes Michelangelo swoon.  Raphael isn’t so impressed with him and simply wants to get back to their own world before Krang starts too much trouble.  Leonardo thinks Batman fought like a detective, gauging his enemies with each strike, and is impressed with his technique.  They await Splinter’s verdict on their enemy, but their sensei has gone off on his own mission.


At Wayne Tech, Bruce Wayne brings Raph’s sai to Lucius Fox for analysis.  Using data from the (now kidnapped) Dr. Naveen Khan, Lucius determines that the sai and its owner are from another dimension.  The elements of the sai and the mutagen-laced DNA on it are slightly different from those in their dimension and are trying to adapt to the physics of this new universe.  While that’s fine for the sai, the mutagen in the DNA does not exist in their dimension and is slowly becoming inert. 

In other news, Lucius informs Bruce that Dr. Khan’s project for Wayne Tech involved building a functional dimensional portal.  Looking at the tech stolen by the ninja, he believes they have everything they need to build the portal except one piece: A resonance engine.  Wayne Tech’s engine has been successfully hidden in Central City, but Bruce thinks they aren’t out of the woods, yet.

Bruce calls up Alfred, who informs him that Wayne Tech licensed resonance engines to five other agencies; the one sent to the Department of Defense has been reported missing.  Donning his cowl, Batman tells Alfred to use the Witch Eye program to scan the Gotham City sewers for the mutants, who may not be mutants much longer.  He then leaves to find who is selling the engine.  Unbeknownst to Batman, Splinter has been hiding in the rafters, observing the whole conversation.


At the docks, the Penguin greets the Shredder and his men unload the stolen resonance engine.  Shredder betrays Penguin and orders his Foot Soldiers to kill everyone.  Penguin successfully barters for his life, offering to use his knowledge of the Gotham underground to help Shredder meet his goals.  Shredder agrees to spare him and gloats that with the Turtles slowly de-mutating, nothing will stand in his way.

Crawling through caves on the outskirts of the city, the Turtles get the bad news from Splinter.  Splinter tells them that only one man can possibly help them get home before they all de-mutate.  They then slip through a crack in the wall, entering the Batcave.


Turtle Tips:

*This issue is continued from Batman/TMNT #1.  The story continues in Batman/TMNT #3.


Review:

I think this issue’s one fault is that it’s rather front-heavy with the action.  The TMNT vs. Batman takes up 9 pages at the start of the issue with the remaining 11 pages dedicated to all the info-dumping.  It’s a thrilling start, don’t get me wrong, but everything afterward is just “situation establishment”.


Tynion utilizes Batman’s extended cast nicely, as we get Alfred playing eye-in-the-sky (or sewer, rather) and Lucius Fox as the convenient science dude who explains everything for audience benefit.  Together, they sort of fill the void Oracle left behind now that she no longer exists, come to think of it.  

The Penguin being the one to sell the resonance engine made for a pretty intuitive cameo, though I wish he’d managed to threaten Shredder with a gimmick umbrella.  But maybe Penguin doesn’t use those anymore; I’ve been out of the Batman game for a few years.

I mentioned that the issue starts out really strong and the opening scene is actually really funny.  Michelangelo runs into a pizza parlor to warn everyone that there’s a lunatic in a bat costume outside, but everyone is more concerned about the giant turtle.  I dunno, but that just tickled my funny bone; all the citizens of Gotham being totally cool with a guy in a costume punching clowns, like it's just some normal thing.

Williams plots a nice brawl between the Turtles and Batman, though TMNT fans may feel displeased that their favored characters took it on the chin so severely.  If it’s any consolation, Splinter goes toe-to-toe with Batman and doesn’t break a sweat, so while the Turtles gave a rather poor showing, the TMNT brand did get its licks in.  And, well, from an in-universe perspective, the Turtles are teenagers and Batman’s in his 30s.  He’s got twice as much experience as them.

Williams maybe resorts to spreads and splashes a bit much.  The two-page spread for the title page looked nice and functioned as a cool establishing shot, but the full page splash of Shredder, um, walking was perhaps overkill.  Comics these days are so damn short, a meager 20 pages, you can’t really waste real estate on mini-posters like you could in the ‘90s.

Anyhow, we’re still getting started, but the first fight between the characters looked quite lavish.  Batman fans ought to be satisfied with the clear winner, though I suspect we’ll be seeing a rematch next issue.


Grade: C+ (as in, “Can’t say I’m big on Penguin having razor-sharp teeth and black eyes.  The idea of the Penguin being monstrously deformed is one of those lingering Batman Returns elements that I wish would fade away already”.)


Thursday, January 7, 2016

TMNT (1987) Season 9 review at AIPT


That's right!  It's time for Lord Dregg!  Carter!  Unstable mutations!  Ronnie Rist!

Ronnie Rist?

Here's my review of TMNT (1987) Season 9 over at AIPT, the first of the Lord Dregg seasons.

That just leaves one more season to go and then I'll be finished with the original Fred Wolf cartoon.  I kinda don't want the ride to end.

Because then I'm going to have to review The Next Mutation.  Oh god.