Saturday, September 30, 2017

TMNT (IDW) #74


Publication date: September 27, 2017

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee 
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams

"The Trial of Krang, Part Two"

Summary:

In Dimension X, the Hot Rod is being pursued by the Malignoid Swarm.  Zak and Kala call on Ace Duck to play gunner and he keeps the Swarm back long enough for them to reach backup in the form of Commander Zom and her Triceraton forces.  They fight the Swarm back, allowing the Hot Rod (containing the Turtles and the witnesses) to reach Smada City on Planet Neutrino.  Once there, Commander Dask has the witnesses escorted into protective custody, unaware that Hakk-R is watching from the rooftops.


At the royal palace, the Turtles reunite with Princess Tribb while King Zenter and Queen Gizzla get a sitrep from Commander Zom.  Her Triceratons were successful in driving the Swarm's first wave back, albeit at the cost of several lives.  In exchange for the continued aid of the Triceratons, King Zenter vows to find a planet for them which the nomadic race can claim as their new homeworld.

As the trial begins, the Turtles join the royal family in the palace to watch the event, while Donatello joins the Fugitoid in the courtroom to assist with the prosecution.  Judge Gorath enters and opening statements are made.  The Fugitoid is confident that General Krang's misdeeds, all a matter of public record, are enough to seal his fate, but also says that the witness testimonies will prove Krang's guilt beyond any shadow of a doubt.  The defense attorney then makes his statement, reminding the court that Krang waged his campaign to save the lives of the Utrom people, and was successful in his endeavor.  Furthermore, all of his methods used during his campaign were within the boundaries of the war charters of the era (albeit those charters were written by the Utrom Empire, who were the prevailing dimensional superpower at the time, but the adherence to law still stands).


The first witness, B'een Go, is called to the stand.  He tells the court how Krang's men kidnapped him and used his empathic abilities to interrogate POWs.  The defense argues that Krang-himself was not present for the kidnapping or any of those interrogations and was unaware of the methods being used.


The second set of witnesses, Anemon and Eymo, are called to the stand.  Anemon tells the court how he served Krang in exchange for the safety of his people, only for Krang to destroy his entire homeworld of Akebono.  The defense then presents the contract Anemon signed when he entered into Krang's service, with a caveat that any testimony he should provide in a court of law must be rendered null and void at Krang's discretion.


The third witness, Stump, is called to the stand.  The Fugitoid asks him about the circumstances of how Krang clearcut his entire homeworld, rendering it a barren wasteland.  Stump shares his outrage, but not regarding the fate of his planet, but how he wishes he had negotiated a better deal with Krang when he sold him the lumber rights.  The defense declines to question the witness.

With things going badly, the Fugitoid decides to call in his surprise witness: Leatherhead!  Krang is worried and the defense attorney had not prepared to counter any of Leatherhead's testimony.  But before he can speak, the Malignoid swarm attacks Smada and the trial is postponed.  The Turtles join the Neutrinos in defending the city.  Meanwhile, Hakk-R attacks Judge Gorath in his chambers...


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #73.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #75.

*The Turtles collected the last of the witnesses in TMNT: Dimension X #5.

*The Turtles met Zog in TMNT Annual 2014.

*The Triceratons' history with the Utroms was chronicled in the TMNT: Utrom Empire miniseries.

*Judge Gorath originates from the 4Kids TMNT series, first appearing in "The Big Brawl, Part 2".  Obscure as obscure can be.

*This issue was originally published with 5 variant covers: Cover A by Cory Smith and Ronda Pattison, Cover B by Kevin Eastman and Tomi Varga, Retailer Incentive Cover by Donny Tran and Pattison, Planet Awesome Collectibles Variant Cover by Marat Mychaels, and Yesteryear Comics Exclusive Variant Casey Jones FunkoPop photo cover.


Review:

Just when you think you've seen everything under the sun when it comes to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, something like THIS lands in your lap: The Turtles engaging in a courtroom drama.  See?  There's still room for new ideas in this decades-worn franchise.

The pacing of the "Trial of Krang" arc is a bit whacked, requiring you to read a separate miniseries in the middle of it and all, but the pacing of THIS issue is actually very nicely done.  It opens up with plenty of action, from Ace Duck gunning down Maligoids to an army of Triceraton commandos engaging the enemy.  It then leads into some behind-the-scenes intrigue, as King Zenter makes a questionable deal with Commander Zom in private.  And once all THAT'S over with, we get to the extended wordiness of the actual trial.

It was well-paced, I think, as it gives the less patient of us plenty of action going in, but then rewards the more curious among us with the legit trial we've been promised.  I've WANTED to see pages and pages of the alien witnesses getting cross-examined and I'm glad we weren't shortchanged on any of that (and we're only halfway through the witnesses, as a matter of fact).  I think everybody ought to get what they want out of this one, both in terms of action and the aforementioned courtroom drama.

We're also finally getting some payoff regarding the Triceratons.  They've been around in the IDW continuity since 2014, but haven't been the center of any plot lines yet.  They've just been... present.  Since we know the upcoming story arc is going to be called "Invasion of the Triceratons", I think we can put together what their participation in the IDW universe is finally going to come down to.  It was a bit of a wait, but I'm looking forward to it.

I suppose if there was anything absent from this issue, it would be any meaningful contributions from the title characters.  The Turtles are entirely passive in this installment, which isn't too major a trespass, since I love almost all these other characters and want to see them shine.  The Turtles will get back behind the wheel next issue, I'm sure.  Until then, it was kind of fun to see the Neutrinos and Ace Duck and the Fugitoid steal the show for a month.



10 comments:

Anonymous said...

You may want to put this in your Turtle Tips. Gorath was originally a 4Kids character appearing in the Battle Nexus Tournament.

Mark Pellegrini said...

@Anon,

Very good catch! I just reviewed those episodes and forgot all about him.

Mystery Cup of Joe said...

Yes, even though this is a decades old franchise, the Turtles can still do something new in their comics. I am with you on actually seeing the comic go the route of an actual court case. It is interesting to see how Krang is a ruthless dictator but also a savior of his own kind. This kind of issue brings out the reality that we have in history. War and land occupation can be a horrific topic, but present day countries are alive because of war and occupation. So, should Krang get the death penalty or should he just be exiled like Napoleon? I love it when comics are not just black and white and throw in the gray areas.

Leatherhead should be an interesting. Why was Krang afraid of his testimony? Why does Krang remember him fondly out of all the mutants and aliens in this universe?

Also, I am so glad the Neutrinos resemble the 80's counterparts and not the 2012 mind controlling, bland aliens. I love the 2012 series but their Neutrinos were horrible.

Dermot Mac Flannchaidh said...

The writers actually went there. That "advanced interrogation techniques" is an allusion to post-9/11 term "enhanced interrogation techniques" that the George W. Bush administration used as a euphemism for torture in an attempt to obfuscate that it was torture. I remember how much ridicule and backlash that kind of language elicited at the time. But I'm also middle-aged—and I realized now that I don't know if the typical young adult reader today (let alone a teenage reader) is even old enough to remember that backlash, or whether that kind of language still elicits ridicule now as it did then. I was still a teenager when I started reading Mirage, but now I feel old.

Dermot Mac Flannchaidh said...

I just realized what may be an enormous plot hole. In Dimension X #1, B'een Go was revealed to be an empath, but he wasn't able to determine whether Hakk-R or the turtles were actually lying. If he can't even do that, then he's useless for empathy-guided interrogation whether or not torture is even involved. Why? Because no competent intelligence agency considers torture reliable as an interrogation technique for the simple reason that individuals under such duress are inclined to say anything to make it stop, and indeed most of the post-9/11 leads extracted under "enhanced interrogation techniques" turned out to be completely false. The primary reason torture is used by any competent regime is to inflict pain and suffering as its own goal, and not to extract information, and this is why, in the real world, most free democratic societies have long since abolished torture altogether. If B'een Go wasn't used to verify sincerity but just to verify emotional states, then there could have been a compelling legal argument that the torture itself could not have been used for interrogation. (Indeed, it's easy to see how Krang would torture people out of sheer sadism.) But there's also a certain element of farce in this trial retroactively accepting Krang-era law while prosecuting Krang for the crimes he committed at the same time, when any similar retroactive justification is usually easily rejected at real world war crimes tribunals including at Nuremberg and the Hague. But with that "advanced interrogation techniques" easter egg, this issue's writing does seem at least partially self-aware, so it's possible these are not actual plot holes but a way of making this trial seem "off" to the reader, as if someone besides Krang is actively trying to throw its verdict. Though, more often than not, easter eggs are just cultural shoutouts, and a simple plot hole tends to be the more likely explanation, so...I can't tell if this issue's writing is broken or brilliant. But even if these are plot holes, it's still a much better read than the Dimension X miniseries was.

Anonymous said...

This is less war crimes than OJ Simpson. Krang has been rigging this thing from the beginning. If he decided to "throw the court at his mercy" next issue with an alliance with the invading army, it would not surprise me at all.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious as to whether the Turtles went to court in the Fred Wolf cartoon (on any side of the trial)

Anonymous said...

^ There's the "Turtles on Trial" episode from Season 3 of the original cartoon. That was a pretty good episode too.

In the 4kids series the Turtles also attend Ch'rell's trial with the Utroms in the finale of Season 3.

So yeah...they've been to trials before.

Anonymous said...

I feel like #75 is going to be a very important issue the way #50 was, ending the "third season" (the other two season finales were 28 and 50)

BulletTooth504 said...

Fugitoid is a terrible prosecutor.