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TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #10

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures010Going Down?

Plotted by: Dean Clarrain & Ryan Brown
Written by: Dean Clarrain
Penciled by: Ken Mitchroney
Inked by: Dan Berger
Lettered by: Gary Fields
Colored by: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Edited by: Scott Fulop and Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: May 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

We open on a bit of ‘lecturing’ on the hazards of man-made pollution via waste-dumping, move to a flashback of Bebop and Rocksteady dumping waste into a sewer-stream, before joining the turtles and Splinter. The turtles talk with Splinter about recent events, piecing things together before setting off to chase down a lead on Krang’s whereabouts. Splinter had his own question–asking Raph why he continued to wear his black costume (from Stump Asteroid) unlike his brothers who are back to their traditional look. Meanwhile, Shredder has called an exterminator, and mentions Bebop and Rocksteady having been gone a few days (perhaps buried under rubble of a cave-in?).

The exterminator is bitten by a roach, then falls into a sewer opening. Meanwhile, the turtles have found nothing at Shredder’s old sub-dock, but realize he might be nearby based on where they bumped into Bebop and Rocksteady earlier. As they pursue this latest lead, Mikey realizes they’re being followed…as Leo realizes they’re being approached. The guys find themselves facing the exterminator (mutated into a giant cockroach) and a mutated planarian worm calling himself Wyrm. While both seek to harm the turtles, they turn on each other…and as they fight, a gas pipeline is ruptured along with some live wires, causing an explosion. As the turtles check on injuries, Raphael notices there’s suddenly a bunch of rodents around them.

I’m starting to get used to the alternating Mitchroney/Lawson art scheme on this title. Now that I’m consciously noticing it, it works, and while every single issue may not be entirely consistent, every-other-issue is (mostly). And as an expected thing, I’m cool with it and take no real issue with the matter. That said, I think I’m preferring Mitchroney‘s style for seeming a little more detailed, softer, and more expressive and (I hate to use the word) “cutesy.” There’s a tone to this that I like, and as an issue of TMNT Adventures, I have no real problem with the art; it fits the book, the story, and general nostalgia and certainly gets everything across that needs to be gotten across.

The story is the sixth issue of a “mutant of the month” (this time TWO of ’em!) in Wyrm and the exterminator, that I seem to recall as “Scumbug” though I don’t think he was named in this issue. I VAGUELY recall the character appearing in the cartoon…but that could just be some sort of deja vu or crossing of memories. I do remember the action figure at the least. I’m curious now to revisit the current animated series to see if Michelangelo calls the one cockroach character ‘scumbug” or “a scumbug” or such.

I mention above that this issue opens with “lecturing,” and while I noticed it twenty-some years ago reading this series (particularly around #17 and then some of the #30s to #40s) there’s a bit of a “message” being put out there, an element of putting some real-world thoughts and subject matter forth. Whether I’d presently see it as a bias or some other political/PC “buzzword” is something I’ll leave out…this puts subject matter out there for consideration by the reader, by kids, to be able to look into on their own, or to go back to later when/if the subject comes up in general. To “connect” it back to a comic they read.

There’s plenty of “convenience” to the story, and some parts of the plot have noticeable (to me as a 34-year-old) holes. But it’s the turtles, it’s new characters, it’s stuff being moved forward a bit, and while far from being a favorite issue, it’s not horrible.

The Weekly Haul – Week of November 30, 2016

This week was a ridiculously HUGE week, in pricing, quantity, and physical size!

Getting into it:

weeklyhaul_11302016a

Newest issue of Surgeon X, which I enjoyed the first couple issues of, after jumping in a bit late. No apparent variant covers with this, or at least none that I saw to distract me or make me wonder which cover is the "real" or "regular" or "basic" cover. IF this is the variant or a variant…yeah, I’ll be highly annoyed, but I’ve seen nothing to indicate that!

I nearly passed on the New Talent Showcase, but I kinda liked the cover, and like the concept of the book, plus I’m just a sucker for these squarebound comics with spine text that can go right on the bookshelf as-is, even though they’re "just" a "single issue" of whatever. I also dig the notion of it being a one-shot/special to showcase the new talent, and not "pushing" some "branding" on a spread of regular/ongoing series as a notion OF the new talent (or "young guns") being somehow, by default, superior or more worthy of promotion than established talent.

While I appreciate the Direct Currents issue being magazine sized to go with the Rebirth preview back in the spring, I’d definitely prefer to see it comic-sized, as I do not presently have a good filing system for magazines. Still, as a "free" thing (comic shops had to BUY this, same as Free Comic Book Day stuff, same as loads of other promotional materials that we as customers tend to receive AS free) I can’t really grouse about it!

weeklyhaul_11302016b

I hate "clustering" of stuff. And it is truly very annoying after getting so used to DC‘s $2.99 price point to have two $4.99 books out the same week; all the more as these are not part of the "regular" series for either title, and thus I’m paying "full price" for to keep with complete runs from the DCBS "bundles" that allow me to get the entirety of Rebirth.

Worse, both of these are out the same week as the one IDW title and general exception to my other rules on pricing of "ongoing" titles and such TMNT Universe. Three issues, each one could be replaced with twenty issues from a quarter bin! $15…for three issues. Ugh!

weeklyhaul_11302016c

I’d "expected" these books last week: the shop passes the various Marvel blowout sales along to customers on their email list…so each of these cost me what two Marvel single issues would have! But each volume has a lot more than only two issues’ content!

And to me, in general, frankly, Marvel is doing a great job lately of making the Clone Saga and Ben Reilly Epic look particularly appealing to me…if only for knowing they’re 1. finite and 2. where they end. I’m just a bit bugged at the fact that books 5 & 6 are out of print/unavailable except at RIDICULOUS markups by third-party sellers. I may want the other two volumes for this set…but especially after getting these at only $8/ea, I sure as heck will not spend $20, $40, $60+ beyond cover price when I’d be hard-pressed even now to "justify" spending cover price on any of these! Great at $8, but Marvel‘s pricing in general is too "premium" for me on print stuff! (All the more their "new" content, as opposed to reprinting stuff from the 1990s)!

weeklyhaul_11302016d

Snagged these Double Take volumes for $1/ea (90% off). I know the company’s done/nothing forthcoming, and would have preferred to get all 10, but these are all that were present. For less than the cost of 2 Marvel issues, these’ll provide plenty of reading, and I’d hope I could (cheaply) find the other three volumes to have the complete, finite set, and though not in singles, this complete "dead universe."

Not impressed with most of the covers or the generic fonts–these look more like flags for a department store for differing lines of clothing or such, or some other generic tagging of something. But the notion of the stories being set in the same "universe" as Night of the Living Dead intrigued me before, and I’m certainly willing to have paid a whopping $1 per volume! (considering I have the shop pulling all $1-and-under promo single-issues, and I got these that each contain five comics’ worth of material!)

weeklyhaul_11302016e

Then just to grit my teeth all the more on a couldn’t-pass-them-up-for-the-price basis, I bought two boxed games. Together, these cost me a few cents more than two DC issues, and for under the price of a single issue apiece ($2.79ish and $3.49ish) I’m willing to have ’em for my games collection/shelf!

All the more at the price-shock of realizing the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles game is a whopping $90!!! I’d LOVE to get THAT game, but that will likely have to wait to be some kinda personal reward/celebration of a major life event eventually. Assuming I don’t talk myself out of it in frustration over some key character minis being Kickstarterexclusive. (Thaaaaaat is a matter for another post, perhaps!)

Here’s hoping that next week is particularly light!

Showing Off the Shelves: The Flash (November 2016)

My Flash stuff is the most recent "subcollection" to take off for me, having "started" with The Secret of Barry Allen and not really counting the Flashpoint volumes to pulling those in, and adding a number of other volumes in 2016…including having pre-ordered the Flash by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato Omnibus prior to being laid off.

flash_shelf_late_november_2016

As Flashpoint was an "event," I’d had those books grouped with my other "event books," but decided that as the only "event series" that I have like this (and keeping what I do have of Blackest Night with the Green Lantern stuff, made sense to me to move Flashpoint over to fit in right after the Road to Flashpoint volume, leading directly to the Omnibus (which has the first 25 or so issues of the New 52 run).

I would hope that there’ll be another omnibus collecting the back half of the series, but for now, I’m more interested in/looking forward to The Flash by Geoff Johns vol. 3 and The Flash by Mark Waid vol. 1!

More Grumpiness Toward Variants: An Archie Edition

This morning, I was checking out stories at The Beat, and came across a preview for the latest issue of Jughead.

jughead_preview_trigger_variantsSomething about the image used in the header here drew me in–I’ve seen a couple things recently about Sabrina guest-starring or such, and I have a bit of a renewed interest there lately after seeing Melissa Joan Hart in God’s Not Dead 2 and a couple other things that cropped up in my Facebook newsfeed with her…like it being 20 years since the tv show!

I’ve never really considered Jughead to be a character who was interested in romance, so seeing this image of him with Sabrina, it’s a charming image, and got my curiosity.

But upon getting into the article/preview itself, I was "treated" to the first three images being three different covers for the issue.

Instant turn-off!

I hate that Archie got into the "variants game!" I’m sure they had been doing some here and there, but it was never so noticeable as it’s been the last year-plus with the "relaunch" of the various series. And aside from my usual complaints about variants, the very real anecdote from my own experience is having 1. been "interested in" checking out the new series (Archie #1) and 2. finding over 20 copies of the issue…and not one cover was the same. It was impossible to determine a "main" or "regular" or "standard" cover, because there were just simply too many covers, PERIOD.

Then there was the fact that they upped their pricing, jumping from being pretty much the "best value" to having nothing stand-out. It seemed that where Marvel and DC and the other "major publishers" were dealing in $2.99s and $3.99s and in-between… Archie was maintaining at $2.25 or $2.50. Any given issue would be better than DC/Marvel‘s best price, and thus a prime issue for impulse buying (and this is without even getting into the value of the digests!)

But at $3.99, a standard-size, standard-paper comic is NOT an "impulse" or "casual" buy for me, in general. There are the occasional exceptions, but those are quite rare!

And while it’s a matter for another post, in brief, I’ve held to my refusal to utilize Comixology directly for any digital comics purchases (even apparently avoiding a popular buy-1-get-1-free sale for Cyber Monday yesterday). (31 months now, I was NOT just mouthing off with an empty threat of quitting buying through them over dropping in-app purchasing on Apple devices!) But partially due to ill-will I hold toward Comixology, I’m wary of most digital comics purchasing, period. I’ve softened somewhat in that I’ll use the DC app (powered by/interacts with Comixology but allows in-app purchasing) and the IDW/TMNT one (does the same), but I’m not interested in umpteen different apps for buying digital comics, and I’m not going to buy digital comics on a website and then hassle with "translating" that into some sort of e-reader.

Additionally, while it’s great to have the option of locating a key back-issue or such through a publisher directly, it’s not feasible to me to buy individual issues from a publisher directly, unless they would offer free shipping. If I pay $3.99 for a comic and have to pay $3.99+ shipping and/or handling, you’ve DOUBLED the price of THAT ISSUE ALONE. I don’t like paying $4/issue, making it functionally an $8 issue does not begin to improve anything in my eyes. Even if the issue would be "free" the shipping cost still means I’m better off getting the issue(s) at a comic shop…assuming the shop has the issues stocked to begin with.


Perhaps I seem hypocritical in this, as I know that DC and Marvel and virtually every other publisher trades in ridiculous quantities of variants. In this case today, with the Jughead issue, what (I think) particularly set me off was the THREE covers. I can–will–do–mostly turn a blind eye to the existence of variants when there are "only 2" covers. I’ve been beaten into submission on those, and at least can often (yet NOT as often as I’d LIKE) tell which is the "main" cover and which is the variant and can flat-out IGNORE the variant.

But when there are 3 or more covers…it becomes that much MORE likely that I will be unable to get the cover that I actually want! If a shop orders 3-4 shelf copies and there are 2 covers, there’s a better chance there’ll be at least 1 copy of the cover that I am interested in over the others. 3 or more covers further dilutes this and makes it more likely that if I’m not THE first person getting a copy, there’ll be 2 or more copies of the issue, but NOT the cover that I actually want.

And that turns me off and fully discourages buying into the series or continuing with the series at all.

Given the easier availability of stuff from "the big two" and their content being what I’m primarily after, I also have to compromise more. When the smaller publishers or indie publishers pull those same "stunts," it’s a lot easier for me to be harsher and more pointed in my displeasure and avoid them entirely.

I have a nearly-30-year-history with Superman comics and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with Batman virtually on-par with both of those. Batman I’ve been very choosy on over the years, and even walked away from the Superman titles for over 3 years.

People love variants? Variants are essential to sales, to the continuation of a title? There’s no option to NOT deal in variants? They’re fun? They’re "bonus," or any other spin?

Fine–good on the publisher.

But I am an actual real-life example (particularly when calling stuff out in posts like this or comments on Twitter) of someone who is NOT happy with variants, does NOT enjoy them, for whom the chase and ‘game’ of variants is NOT fun, and who WILL flat-out drop a series…and has "dropped" ENTIRE PUBLISHERS over "variants" shenanigans (Valiant and Boom! Studios).

I get that many will complain but buy anyway. I get that I myself will make rare, occasional one-time/case-by-case exceptions. But as a general rule, I’m quick to drop or continue to just not buy stuff over seemingly insignificant things like variants.

Hey, the publisher is selling or banking on selling multiple copies of an issue to people.

SURELY one of those makes up for not selling any copy to me at all.

Showing Off the Shelves: TMNT (November 2016)

I’m showing off the latest configurations of "sub collections" on my shelves.

Here, today, are my TMNT and Usagi stuff. While not officially tied together, I’ve long associated Usagi Yojimbo with the TMNT stuff; and so they fit together well on a shelf. Though I’m basically maxed-out on this shelf now, so the Usagi stuff might end up getting moved to fit elsewhere before too long.

tmnt_shelves_late_november_2016

I’d jumped on the TMNT Ultimate Edition line as soon as it started, and "kept up" with it, including the surprise/addition of the 6th volume. Then I have the 1First graphic novel series, collecting the early Mirage stuff in color the first time. These were my initial introduction to the original/Mirage version of the characters, having had my start with the classic cartoon and the Archie-published TMNT Adventures.

After those we have stuff from Mirage itself over the years–first some of the generic collected volumes; then a bunch of the mid-2000s collected volumes up to the cgi-TMNT film just before Laird sold the property.

From there, the Archie edition of the original TMNT Adventures mini, collected; along with 4 of the 6 TMNT Classics Digest that reprinted the earlier TMNT Adventures issues; and then the current run of IDW‘s volumes collecting the TMNT Adventures run. From there, some other versions of the TMNT Adventures collections, the IDW TMNT hardcover, the 30th Anniversary Special and the 2012 & 2014 Annuals.

Finally, the first 4 Usagi Yojimbo mega-collections from Dark Horse.

I’d had a number of the earlier IDW TPBs of their TMNT series; but stopped with those as soon as I found out about the oversized hardcovers–and though I’m a couple volumes behind, my aim is to use THOSE for my "double-dipping" on the series. They’re the far better value, with about 3 paperbacks’ contents for about/slightly over the cost of 2.

I had at one point figured I’d be getting some of the various other large hardcovers IDW has been putting out for the various TMNT stuff…but they’re all different dimensions, and just don’t look like they go together that well, and thus are quite unattractive to me as a group of books.

tmnt_80s_toys_novemer_2016

Then, of course, there are the TMNT toys. While this is not the entirety of my TMNT toys collection…it is a full shelf’s worth, laid out for display at present.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #9

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures009Codename: Chameleon

Plotted by: Steve Lavigne & Dean Clarrain
Written by: Dean Clarrain
Pencilled by: Jim Lawson
Inked & Lettered by: Gary Fields
Colored by: Barry Grossman
Cover: Steve Lavigne
Edited by: Scott Fulop
Managing Editor: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: March 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

raphael_mirage_micro_seriesThe cover of this issue has always been a bit distinctive to me…all the more in later years as I realized it was an homage piece to the cover of the Raphael one-issue Micro Series that originally introduced Casey Jones to the TMNT mythos in the Mirage-published books.

Five issues into this “new direction”–of all-new TMNT stories not rooted in the then-current cartoon or “original” Mirage continuity–and we again have our “Mutant of the Month” in a mostly standalone story. Knowing/remembering what these build to means that I say that in a positive light. It’s a bit formulaic, but it also means we’re getting a larger, expanded cast of characters to be involved as the series goes on, as well as said characters’ origins up-front and on-panel rather than having some mysterious figure that we’re left to wonder about until some later “big reveal” or such.

There’s also plenty of “meta knowledge” for me now, recognizing that these issues are from what would now be considered the “early days” of the TMNT property and what was going on behind the scenes at the time…like the creators on this book being given relatively free reign to do as they wanted and using characters they opted to use and so on…and to create/flesh out new characters both for the story and for the toy line, etc.

The story this issue focuses on a double-agent, code-named ‘Chameleon.’ He’s stolen some plans for for a secret super-weapon…and of course, that makes the news…which leads to Shredder wanting the plans, and sending Bebop and Rocksteady to find the agent. Said agent has conveniently decided to try hiding in/traveling via the sewers, so of course bumps into the turtles…while Bebop and Rocksteady have also taken to the sewers. Chameleon is taken when Shredder’s goons surprise the turtles with a Knucklehead robot (piloted by a Foot Soldier robot), and though he gives up the location of the plans, Shredder mutates him anyway…using mutagen and an actual chameleon. When he escapes and tries to retrieve the plans himself, he finds the turtles, Bebop, and Rocksteady in a standoff. Breaking it, he glows brightly and startling the goons, who shoot at him, causing a cave-in that allows Chameleon to escape with the plans, while trapping the mutants under the Knucklehead cutting off the turtles’ access to the room. We close on evidence that Chameleon has been changed internally as well as externally, setting him up for potential return appearances/adventures.

The writing on this issue continues with that certain “simplicity” I’ve been noting for awhile (and will probably quit touching on quite so blatantly moving forward). Yet it also includes quite a bit of depth when one really thinks about it. There’s plenty of room to wonder at the past adventures of the double agent, how it’s KNOWN he’s a DOUBLE-agent, and so on. Then there’s the fact he’s now a mutant, transformed against his will, and what that means for his ongoing life. Also delving into darker territory–we see the turtles contemplating that nemeses Bebop and Rocksteady might have been killed by the cave-in (or the unspoken notion of them suffocating while buried under the rubble). They’re obviously not HAPPY about it…though they don’t put any particular effort into looking for the bodies.

Lawson‘s back on the art for this issue, and it’s another one where I would not have recognized his art as his own were it not for the credits presented in the issue. I definitely like that, as the look is consistent ENOUGH that it doesn’t stand out here as radically different or anything. The overall linework seems fairly simple/minimal, which I notice in relation to plenty of other contemporary comics (TMNT and otherwise) but it works for the story, gets everything across, and there’s really no doubt what’s going on as everything is kept obvious.

This is far from being a favorite issue for me, though it’s not bad. If I didn’t know where the series was headed I might’ve enjoyed this more; as-is I’m eager to get to The Final Conflict and the Mutanimals and Invasion stuff.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #8

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures008Wild Things

Plotted by: Dean Clarrain and Ryan Brown
Written by: Dean Clarrain
Penciled by: Ken Mitchroney
Inked by: Dan Berger
Colored by: Barry Grossman
Lettered by: Gary Fields
Cover: Steve Lavigne
Edits by: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: February 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

Returned to their proper time, Cudley the Cowlick has left the turtles on top of a building in the middle of a storm. Unbeknownst to any, his previous arrivals had opened a space/time hole that allowed a couple creatures from another dimension to Earth–a large humanoid bat-creature named Wingnut, and a giant mosquito creature named Screwloose. Together, the two have been hurling rocks at skylights, smashing them…and seeing the turtles, lob a rock at them as well. When they fly off, the turtles return to the sewers and home, only to learn that the trouble being stirred up by their new alien encounter.

Despite the storm, an Australian blimp was out and about, giving Wingnut something to pop on tv, prompting the turtles back into action with their own blimp. Which is also popped. Capturing the two, Wingnut cries and Screwloose pokes him, putting him to sleep for a moment. He explains to the turtles how the pair came to be like they are at present…including the fact that they have their own reason to be interested in battling Krang. Before much else can happen, Cudley reappears and takes the two, bound for Stump Asteroid despite the turtles’ questioning the (as they see it) kidnapping. With nothing else to do, the turtles again return home.

There’s something about this issue’s cover that really grabs me. And there’s almost a sense of deja vu or some such. This may have been one of the earliest covers I’d seen for the series, some time before I actually owned a copy myself. A friend had it, so I probably read it at his house, though it would have been a bit out of context. Whether this was before or after I actually “discovered” the series at all, I’m not sure. I don’t think I’ve seen any other covers done as homage to this, so it’s not iconic in that sense…it’s just an image I see that brings back fond memories and makes me smile, no matter how hokey the story itself seems.

I find myself reading the issue, this series, AS an adult. A 34-year-old re-reading comics possibly not read in 20 years, almost certainly not in the last 10-15, with an adult eye amidst reading contemporary TMNT comics from IDW and plenty of other comics certainly not AIMED AT a younger audience the way I believe these were.

So the stories seem rather simplistic and hokey, cheesey, and almost surfacey or shallow. I have no problem with four mutant turtles…but a huge space/time-travelling cow-head and giant humanoid bat with his giant mosquito-buddy give me pause…something’s not quite right with that.

And yet, despite all that…this works. Wingnut and Screwloose flying around breaking windows because surely Krang must be beneath one? That hardly makes sense except as some “out there” elevator pitch. But having recently seen the Turtle Power! documentary and that the entire (Mirage Studios) group was encouraged to contribute character ideas for the toys…this makes sense, and certainly works as a first appearance and initial foundation from which to build later characterization.

Also despite the hokiness, these characters’ background is actually rather deep. It’s glossed over and not particularly graphic, but Krang’s invasion of Huanu is full of potential for expanded story(ies) while working just fine here as a motivational factor for Wingnut and Screwloose, building Krang as that much more an interdimensional/intergalactic threat beyond simply some cliched villain on Earth.

For an 8-year-old, this seems well-paced and such…plenty of action and interaction with characters, giving and showing some detail while not delving terribly deep. “Reading between the lines” and thinking deeper on stuff as an adult, while the story itself is fairly silly, there’s a lot more depth just below the surface and begging for further development.

The art is good, and we’re back to Mitchroney. This issue has the appearance of an early TMNT Adventures issue, as it is, and the visuals get everything across that needs to be (even if not QUITE fitting the dialogue and gratuitous famous-buildings references).

I like the issue overall. Though the issue is #8, functionally it’s #4, and continues the seeming one-off stories throwing new characters into the mix and then being done with them by the end of the issue. As I came in with #25 and then the Winter 1992 collection of the Mighty Mutanimals mini, I never got to have the actual experience of reading these for the first time with no clue of where the characters would wind up…and that’s knowledge I can’t forget, so certainly colors my reading.

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