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TMNT Revisited: Mighty Mutanimals (mini-series) #2


mightymutanimalsmini002Under a Big Black Sun

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney
Clean-Ups: Marlene Becker
Inks: Art Leonardi
Letters: Mary Kelleher
Colors: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: June 1991
Cover Price: $1.25

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had hardly been around in publishing existence for seven years when this was published. Looking back, it’s been TWENTY-FIVE years since this story was published. Time certainly flies.

We open with an establishing shot of Maligna’s insectoid-head-looking ship, then cut to the interior where the malignoid that shot Cudley down returns and “briefs” Maligna herself…and she promptly rewards it with a “kiss”–killing it/eating it. On Earth while Man Ray, Jagwar, and Dreadmon contemplate the fallen Cudley, they’re attacked by Leatherhead, Wingnut, and Screwloose who believe they’re threatening the downed cowlick. While they fight, the alien caterpillars have moved to a cocoon state, leaving the group to ponder what’s next. On Maligna’s ship, Null gloats, and unbeknownst to him (and Scul and Bean) Kid Terra notices Mondo’s skateboard, and sneaks off to return it, allowing Mondo and Raph to remain undetected.

After Null & Co. leave to await an audience with Maligna, Raph and Mondo explore and find a chamber of empty exoskeletons of malignoids, and realize they can use them as a disguise. Back on Earth, deciding not to burn the cocoons, the group awaits whatever emerges. Jagwar details his origin around their campfire, followed by Dreadmon detailing his own. Wingnut and Screwloose return, pointing out the now-hatched malignoid warriors. On Maligna’s ship, Mondo and Raph have unknowingly backed into the queen herself, who quickly defeats the two, ordering their removal before re-setting her sights on the Earth that she believes is nearly hers.

This is an interesting middle chapter of this 3-issue mini. Unlike the original TMNT mini that crammed 5 episodes’ story into 3 issues with weird break-points, this actually IS a true 3-part story with appropriate breaks. We learn more about Maligna and her culture–through her getting info from her malignoid warrior and then killing it, as well as how the warriors come to be. We have the first meeting between some of our star characters…and the obligatory fight sequence (the ridiculousness noted by Cudley and seeming some clear commentary from Clarrain on typical superhero stuff of the time). And of course further development of Kid Terra in that we see he’s really not on-board with his employer, having come to see what Null is actually up to. And in the midst of all that, though we’d had some background info on Jagwar and Dreadmon before, we get a fuller origin treatment here. Though the title Mighty Mutanimals refers to mutant animals (and I’ve referred frequently to the “mutant of the month” of the characters’ introductions) many are not mutants in the sense that the turtles are; they were transformed by other means, and I’m not sure that “mutated” is quite the proper verb for ’em.

On the whole, the art struck me as a little odd in this issue, and I was actually surprised to see that this IS another Mitchroney issue. I suppose I should be safe to attribute that to Becker and Leonardi on clean-ups and inks…while the underlying pencils are familiar designs, having others (whose work I’m not used to) working over them, it makes sense there’d be a different finished look. Despite it being noticeable, it’s not too bad. That I notice the difference makes me realize I definitely prefer Berger’s inking to this. Despite not being entirely to my taste…this issue’s look brings back memories, of my original readings of the story, and that’s a definite positive, overriding any negative I notice now as an adult with more than a decade between present and the last time I read this.

As a single chapter, this works well for me, bridging the introductory stuff of the first issue and the story’s end next issue; as well as filling out the origin for the characters who had not yet had that treatment. I have fond memories of this incarnation of the Mutanimals, and beginning with this story and its close tie to the main TMNT Adventures title as well as the characters all having been introduced in that title, I find this story and the characters themselves an integral part of TMNT history, as they through this are an integral part of my own memories and understanding of the TMNT mythology.

TMNT Revisited: Mighty Mutanimals (mini-series) #1


mightymutanimalsmini001The Wild Angels

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney and Garrett Ho
Inks: Ryan Brown and Gary Fields
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Cover: Steve Lavigne
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: May 1991
Cover Price: $1.25

While this continues directly from TMNT Adventures #19, it is its own mini-series, and includes several pages of recap to catch new readers up on the context for this series or to remind longer-time readers of relevant details germane to this story.

We pick up on Jagwar, Dreadmon, and Man Ray facing the meteorite that landed Man Ray on this shore as it cracks open, spilling out a bunch of caterpillar-like creatures. Meanwhile, Maligna’s (off-panel) captured Stump and Sling for interfering with her easy access to Earth (see The Final Conflict) but they’re rescued by Leatherhead, Wingnut, Screwloose, and Cudley the Cowlick. Also meanwhile, Null has the TMNT captive and gloats over the easy defeat, while continuing his “plans” of selling the Earth (as if anyone owns the Earth…but he’s selling it to aliens, so what do THEY know?). Splinter devises an escape plan, while on Stump Asteroid, Leatherhead, Wingnut, and Screwloose decide they have to go to Earth to try to stop Maligna’s invasion.

Cudley volunteers to transport them against Stump’s protests, and back on Earth the alien caterpillars begin eating the rainforest. When Jagwar protests, they turn on the mutant animals. Splinter’s psychically summoned a bunch of rats who free the turtles & co., and they’re able to fight Scul and Bean. With the tide of battle turning, they “drop a bomb” again and escape…not realizing Raph and Mondo Gecko have stolen aboard. Retreating from the alien caterpillars, Man Ray & co. come across an injured/crashed Cudley, surrounded by terran cows.

I missed this mini-series when it was originally published–this is between my first issue of TMNT Adventures (#17) and my next exposure (#25). I actually originally read this entire mini as a single issue–it’s reprinted as the Winter 1991 TMNT Special. I only later realized this even was originally published in single-issue format.

These characters were already established by the time I learned of any of them–Man Ray, Dreadmon, Jagwar, Leatherhead, Wingnut & Screwloose, and Mondo Gecko. So reading back through TMNT Adventures, I already knew these characters as a group, as these Mighty Mutanimals, and I’ve been anxious to get to this story, the payoff of all these “mutant of the month” issues. Admittedly, these’ve become more “recurring roles” than one-offs…but this story sets the stage for the characters as a more established group/team moving forward.

But that’s a lot of general thinking. The issue at hand is good. We have Mitchroney and Ho, providing some consistency (Ho having penciled TMNT Adventures #19 and Mitchroney plenty of issues prior).  No complaints from me on the art…everyone looks familiar and as expected. Some minor coloring mishaps, but that could be as much my copy and the age of the issue as anything else, and since it happened even in the cartoon, I can accept it in the comics since I’m reading for simple enjoyment.

The story is very good, and other than the cover stating otherwise, this could just as easily be the next issue of TMNT Adventures. Which is really a good thing for a spinoff. We have consistent characterization, and mostly plausible situations. The most important thing is that I enjoyed reading this, and nothing struck me as “off” enough to truly distract from the reading.

Thanks to the recap pages–and experience–I can say that this is a good jumping-on point, and able to be enjoyed as its own thing even without context of prior issues.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #19


tmntadventures019The Man Who Sold the World

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Garrett Ho
Inks: Dan Berger
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ryan Brown, Dan Berger
Editors: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: April 1991
Cover Price: $1.25

The turtles and Mondo hang out on a rooftop, contemplating recent events. They’re soon joined by Splinter and April, who tells them Splinter’s begun training her in use of a katana. They’ve also been researching the logo on the building that caught their attention and found it’s owned by a man named Null. We then cut to Null, who has agreed to assist Maligna’s agents however he can, in exchange for taking his businesses off-world in perpetuity. Meanwhile, Man Ray has found the meteorites and while he considers their almost deliberate placement, one lifts off and hits him, carrying him to the beach Jagwar and Dreadmon have called home for some time…while the three get acquainted, Dreadmon notices the flying rock has begun to crack open.

Back in New York, our heroes wrestle with whether or not to break into Null’s building, breaking the law for a greater good. Kid Terra ambushes and tries to warn them, but Raph arrives (back in his usual getup) and knocks Kid out before he can tell them whatever he has to say. The group is then further ambushed by Scul and Bean. One of them “drops a bomb”–some sort of explosive, gaseous goo that knocks everyone else out. They’re then thanked by Mr. Null himself, finally revealed: Lex Luthor with small devil-horns.

I’m not really sure what this issue’s cover has to do with things…it puts me soundly in mind of Cherubae checking in on the turtles and Dreadmon via the Turnstone…which isn’t really possible given how that story ended. It’s not a bad piece, and looks kinda cool…it’s just fairly generic, moreso than I’ve noticed in quite awhile.

We have a new penciler on this issue–Garrett Ho. I don’t consciously recognize the name, and this stands out more because I’ve gotten used to Mitchroney and Lawson‘s alternating work. The art’s not bad at all…a bit different of course, but everything works, and I can’t really complain.

The story itself is solid, and things are finally coming together as we get involvement from (if not everyone interacting with everyone) Man Ray, Jagwar, Dreadmon, Mondo Gecko, the turtles, April, Splinter, as well as Scul, Bean, and Kid Terra. There’s a lot going on, but it does feel like everything’s touched on just enough to keep stuff moving forward.

I believe this is the first issue to end on an actual “To Be Continued” note since #12 heading into The Final Conflict. This time, however, the issue is continued into a spin-off mini: Mighty Mutanimals…which stars a number of our “mutants of the month,” providing some solid payoff to the scattered introductions and limited appearances so far.

I’ve been really looking forward to getting to this point, to the Mutanimals, due to where I firmly got “into” this series for the long haul originally.

Plush Poké-Buddies

I now have three of my favorite Pokémon characters as plushies!


Eevee has got to be the cutest, most adorable critter of ’em all! While I like most of the "Eeveelutions" as well, this little furball’s top of the pile.

And Litten was my chosen starter for Pokémon: Sun, decided as soon as I saw (my) first "spoiler" image of what the three would be…despite some significant disappointment over not receiving a "pre-order with us and get this bonus poster!" poster from Gamestop (an employee insisted they were only for people who had pre-ordered BOTH Sun and Moon), I still wound up (at a different store!) snagging the plush Litten the next day.

And finally, closing out 2016, I came across the plush Snorlax, which fits as one of my other primary characters in Sun, that has been on my core roster without fail as the other five slots have seen a rotation.

Plushies, (in)action figures, a Nintendo 2DS, Omega Ruby, Sun, and X can really all be traced back to Pokemon Go for me, rekindling the dormant Pokémon interest back in early July.

The Weekly Haul – Week of December 28th, 2016

…The final weekly haul of the year.

And for me, a mere two "regular" issues.


The weekly Superman issue (biweekly/two titles). And having checked out and mostly enjoyed A.D. After Death‘s first issue, figured I’d go ahead and stick with it, since I believe it’s a 3-issue mini. I dig the format–it makes it REALLY feel worth its cover price, at "only" double a DC book, and only a little more than a Marvel!

For the physical quality, size, and length of time it took to read…blows anything Marvel is currently putting out (new content) outta the water for me!


The shop I went to actually had some TMNT back issues I was missing. Since I was buying the Clone Saga Epic volume last week, I’d passed on these at $3/ea…but grabbed ’em this week. Cuz hey, filling in gaps in an actual key part of my personal collection! And even as back issues more than a decade old, they only cost me what any current DC book would!


And finally, I had a "surprise" package when I got home on Tuesday. I’d both somewhat forgotten about the Kickstarter as well as thought stuff wouldn’t be here til sometime in January. I’d ordered this Zen book with a print.

Have to say I’m rather disappointed that this is labeled as a volume 2, as I did NOT realize that when I ordered. I may have known it was not a vol. 1, but nothing indicated it being LABELED thusly, that I recall seeing. So it goes (unfortunately) from being a random Zen graphic novel to being an orphaned #2 with no #1 in my library.

While I may hit the shop–or my usual–or both, even!–before the 1st…this was the final Wednesday of 2016, and so my last regular purchase for the year.

Be "interesting," I guess, to see what the coming year holds…though I have never been good about the end-of-year lists and summaries or coming-year predictions/expectations and such. Perhaps I’ll manage one this year?

The ’90s Revisited: Batman #497


batman_0497Broken Bat

Writer: Doug Moench
Artist: Jim Aparo
Inker: Dick Giordano
Colorist: Adrienne Roy
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Asst. Editor: Jordan B. Gorfinkel
Editor: Dennis O’Neil
Published by: DC Comics
Cover Date: Late July, 1993
Cover Price: $1.25

This is one of the most iconic, “key” comics in my life. The writing is straight-forward, the art is superb, and when I picture Bruce Wayne, this is the version I see. Not necessarily the worn-down, beaten man the issue opens with, but the face, the body structure, the human trying to be more-than-human.

With a lead like that, what did I REALLY think?

This issue is only slightly past the midpoint of the Knightfall story. It’s 3 issues before the big 500th issue, and yet is more of a crucial, impactful issue than that, in terms of its effect on the series for a time. The cover spoils the issue, even though really, we already knew it was coming…such was the nature of the beast, even at that time before the internet as we have it now. The cover–at least for the edition(s) I’m used to–feature a half-cover overlay as a sort of “enhancement” or such; just a black-and-white thing mimicking the upper-left corner copy and first part of the title logo…but then has the partially-eclipsed Bat-logo with the text

“You thought it could never happen…


Flip that up, and you have the actual cover itself, the iconic image of a ridiculously-huge and disproportionate Bane pressing Batman backwards over his knee. While the image is NOT lifted from the interior, it certainly conveys its point, and the issue is thus blatantly, fully marked as “the” issue where Batman gets his back broken…even as this “middle chapter” within a larger 19-issue story.

The issue opens with Bruce Wayne just into the manor, surprised at the presence of Bane. The two actually talk, having a semi-civil-ish exchange, basically discussing recent events very matter-of-factly, before the “final battle” between these two is joined. Batman is virtually non-existent, as Bane essentially tosses Bruce Wayne in a Batman costume around, pummeling him nearly to death, the man’s feeble attempts at fighting back doing nothing to slow the villain. As Alfred escapes and seeks out Tim for help, Bane decides on a different course of action than he’d apparently originally intended.

“I am Bane, and I could kill you…but death would only end your agony and silence your shame! Instead, I will simply… BREAK YOU!”

Slamming the battered body down over his knee, Bane then drops him.

“Broken… and done.”

The visuals in this issue are brutal…and it’s almost painful to look at, and just really take in just HOW MUCH of a beating Bane dishes out…yet how resilient Bruce/Batman is, simply to actually SURVIVE the experience. There are subtleties that even just on this read-through I picked up that I hadn’t before (and this is one of the most repeatedly-read comics in my own life) which says a lot! Even a number of years’ worth of issues later, this is the same Bruce Wayne seen in A Death in the Family and during the New Adventures run of the title and others between. This is simply the iconic–to me–visual rendition of the character and by far my favorite.

Story-wise, on the surface there’s really not much. Bane is here, beats up Batman, in essentially an issue-log fight sequence ending with Bruce broken on the ground. It’s something that in the present I would be inclined to strongly dislike–after all, isn’t this just “padding” and “decompression,” having an ENTIRE ISSUE as a fight sequence?!? Yet rather than being a full 1/6th of a graphic novel or such, this is “merely” 1/19th of the Knightfall story itself; the ending of the first TPB of the original collected version, and appropriately-placed within the huger contemporary edition. This truly is just a small piece of a larger story, and so the fight being such a major thing, it does not FEEL padded-out. There are touches that I really liked, especially on this read-through, such as panel “flashbacks” to “recent events,” that I do recall from times I’ve read them, and jog my memory on stuff throughout the Knightfall arc thus far and stuff leading up to it. I could almost hear the somber music swelling as we see these interspersed with “now” and know we’re heading to The Fall, a defining moment for the character of Batman…the guy who can never be defeated, who is always fully prepared with contingencies for everything…but here, he’s gone, worn down as Bane intended, softened TO the point of defeat.

I know I got this copy that I read this time out of a quarter-bin, it’s an issue I’ve seen “hold its price” in terms of what dealers will ask for it…so it’s certainly worthwhile if you find it IN a bargain-bin! Given the full Knightfall story is available in multiple formats and collections, unless you sincerely want to own/read/experience this as a single issue, I would not say it’s actually worth anything more than $1 or so for print or (grudgingly for immediacy) $1.99 for digital.

However, if you’re grabbing this in-print…you MIGHT want to lift that overlay and check which printing you’re buying. I was rather surprised on this copy to realize I’m holding a 2nd print…perhaps that’s part of why it was “only” 25 cents. The only difference I can see outside of the Roman Numeral “II” is that the color of the bat behind the word “Batman” on the cover is yellow for this printing, but white on the first.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #18


tmntadventures018Mondo Metal

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney, Marlene Becker
Inks: Dan Berger
Colors: Barry Grossman
Letters: Gary Fields
Music by: Merciless Slaughter
Transcribed by: Dan Edwards
Cover: Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Editors: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: March 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

The turtles part ways with Man Ray in New Orleans–he heads off to investigate glowing meteors in the sea, the turtles and April head for New York. Upon returning, the turtles hear music and follow the sound to Shredder’s old lair where they find a band of kids. When the lead kid blows out the power, the place is plunged into darkness…but when the lights come back on, they’re surrounded by Footbots. The turtles leap into the fray, scattering the kids and taking down the ‘bots. A couple of the kids–Mondo and his girlfriend–get trapped in a room with one of the bots, which grabs Candy and knocks Mondo into a stack of mutagen barrels. While the Footbot takes off with the girl, Mondo mutates into a giant gecko (having most recently been in contact with his pet gecko during practice). He and Mikey take off on skateboards to rescue Candy. Though rescued, she can’t handle Mondo’s transformation, and the two part ways. Donnie notices some meteors behaving very un-meteorlike…but the group resolves to investigate later. Finally, the turtles make it home to Splinter (Mondo in tow).

I definitely remember getting this issue out of a back-issue bin at my then-local comic shop. The issue was a whopping $5…5x cover price, but it was bag/boarded in good condition, and at the time very definitely a BACK issue (I believe the series was at LEAST 20 issues further on if not more at the time I acquired this one). I bought this over several others because of Mondo Gecko (whose action figure I’d had awhile and had seen in the cartoon) being on the cover. I may have known this was his first appearance by then, but I’m not certain.

While the credits indicate Mitchroney was not alone in art chores, I’d have to go back and look for where his work left off and Becker‘s began. There are a couple awkward panels of Mondo, but by and large I simply enjoyed the art on this issue and didn’t give much heed to variances or such. The events are easily followed, so no problem from me.

As the turtles followed the sound of the band to Shredder’s old place, we get music/lyrics in the gutters of the page…I believe Mondo’s band is Merciless Slaughter, and I’m not sure if Dan Edwards is his real name (if Mondo is a nickname/stage name) or another character…or simply someone Clarrain & Co. had write some music/lyrics for the authenticity. I don’t really care either way…I’d have to spend more time looking closely and/or researching…though it might be a question worth posing to one of the creators if I ever have the chance.

The story itself is another “mutant of the month” (as I keep noting…) but we’re on the cusp of one of the largest “events” of the series (at least, I consider it so–due to the timing of when I got “into” TMNT Adventures beyond simply acquiring a couple random issues several months apart). Though I know that, the issue still feels rather full given everything that happens in it. I’ll take that gladly over it feeling decompressed, and certainly appreciate that it works in such a way as to provide quite a lot of stuff for the younger reader (my ~12-year-old self) to follow, while allowing an adult reader (my mid-thirties self) to “get” other stuff on a deeper level with more analytical thought.

Returning to my “season” analogy of this series, we’d be just about to the (in contemporary 2015 terms) “mid-season finale” with the “back half” of the season leading to the events of #25.

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