• September 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « Aug    
    1234567
    891011121314
    15161718192021
    22232425262728
    2930  
  • On Facebook

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Comic Blog Elite

    Comic Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

  • Advertisements

Super-Blog Team Up: Immortal – TMNT & Highlander

super_blog_teamup_immortal_header

One of my first thoughts on the topic of "Immortal" was Highlander…owing largely to a Queen song lyric: "I am immortal!" (continuing into "I have inside me blood of kings…I have no rival! No man can be my equal! Take me to the future of you all!"

And of course, IN Highlander, you have this tale of immortal beings who have lived among the mortal population secretly for centuries, no one knowing about them (except another group called The Watchers who observe the immortals but generally don’t interfere). So…Immortal. Check.

But in my participation with the SBTU, I’ve managed to go with TMNT stuff so far:

And as it so happens, in the current ongoing TMNT comics from IDW, the turtles and Splinter are the REINCARNATED Hamato Yoshi and his four sons, who originally lived and died in feudal Japan. And if they were reincarnated together once, nothing’s been obvious to indicate they couldn’t again, and if any of them were to be actually killed off in the comics, I’d imagine someone would note in-story that hopefully they’d meet again in the next lifetime…or some such. So, maybe not the same sort of immortal, but…check.


Still…what is "immortal?"

The dictionary definition–in this case, dictionary.com for ease of referenceIMMORTAL includes: "not mortal; not liable or subject to death; undying; remembered or celebrated through all time; not liable to perish or decay; imperishable; everlasting; perpetual; lasting; constant; of or relating to immortal beings or immortality; an immortal being; a person of enduring fame."

Much of my thought–my initial thoughts–with the word gravitates to Highlander, and that franchise’s use of the term; that the Highlanders (primarily Connor and Duncan Macleod–"Same clan, different vintage") and others of the series’ focus are "immortals."

That is, left to their own devices…they will live forever. They cannot die "naturally." But what keeps them from being gods; what keeps them fairly mortal-ish and relatable is the fact that their being "immortal" is basically a perpetual resurrection. They actually can be killed–albeit for a short while–but that’s in the physical, bodily sense. They physically die, but "get better" pretty quickly.

Sort of like Magic: The Gathering‘s planeswalker "spark," an immortal in the Highlander universe is born naturally, grows and ages naturally…and it takes an inciting event to "activate" their latent status. One who would be immortal must be killed violently to "activate" their immortality; else they will live, age, and die (permanently) a mortal.

Once activated, the way such an immortal can die permanently is by separating the head from the body. Other deaths don’t "stick." If an immortal is killed–their head separated from their body–and another immortal is present (and often, it is this immortal that removed said head from its body), the felled individual’s memories and essence is transferred to that other by way of "The Quickening." In that way, an immortal who has taken the head of numerous other immortals grows in strength and ability.

One of the "taglines" is "In the end, there can be only one." The immortals all come to learn of this notion; a prophecy of sorts; that by nature they are to battle one another until only one who remains, and to that individual goes "The Prize," which comes off to me (offhand) has a bit nebulous. But essentially, "The Prize" is a sort of godhood; and ostensibly this immortal would have the power/essence/etc of every other immortal from all history.


Highlander

Given it ran six seasons, much of the "Highlander Lore" as I think of it seems to have been expanded on throughout the tv series, though the "basics" were introduced in the original 1986 film.

highlander_dvds_filmsMy personal "head canon" slightly retcons the original film to mesh it with the tv series and excludes the 2nd and 3rd films. The fourth film sort of works in context with the tv series, coming after its conclusion, albeit not a perfect fit. The fifth film doesn’t really exist. And the 1994 animated series (Quentin MacLeod) and 2007 anime (Colin MacLeod) are just sorta out there, alternate realities or such.

The tv series follows Duncan MacLeod, and basically shows us his life in "present-day" (1990s) initially trying to live outside "The Game" (what the immortals call the active participation in killing one another and whittling their population down toward that one-in-the-end). He’s quickly brought back in, and then much of the series is (especially early-on) an "immortal-of-the-week" thing. Duncan in present-day, an immortal "villain" shows up, we get flashbacks to how Duncan’s crossed paths or otherwise has a "history" with that immortal, before (often) Duncan’s forced to take their head.

What always struck me was the exploration of someone who has lived hundreds of years living in present-day society…all that they’ve seen, all that’s changed in the world around them (all that they may have been part of as well)…and the perspective their immortality would bring them. Especially in terms of life, and lives, and phases of life. That one could live multiple "lifetimes" all over the world in varying situations over time.

And the way Duncan seemed to have this "history" with SO VERY MANY people who whatever they WERE to him, were not necessarily an active, regular part of his everyday 1990s life.

highlander_dvds_tv

And my thoughts would condense this down to what I could personally relate to, not actually being immortal…and all the more as I get older. So right now, 2019, that goes to the way I had friends and people I regularly interacted with in middle school, in high school, in college, in grad school, at a particular job.

Many–most–of these people may not be a regular part of my everyday life. But when our paths re-cross, it can be pleasant, or negative. Nostalgic or bittersweet. Even if I’ve not seen or talked to someone in 20 years, we had a time of life that we were a regular part of one another’s lives–say, in high school–so seeing them again would bring back memories, and though I may have never said one word about them to someone "newer" in my life now, it doesn’t change the importance of both people to my life.


TMNT 

I was introduced to the TMNT property in 1988 or 1989…it was after the cartoon had premiered, but ahead of the 1990 movie; and I recall that period where so many of the action figures were available (such as at Toys R Us) but the turtles themselves were nigh impossible to find. My own very first figure was a Rocksteady, as a result; and I recall "discovering" the villanous Slash because Dad spotted that one and it WAS a turtle…but not one of the main turtles. (And while I don’t recall if he bought it for me then and there or if I got the figure after, Slash is one of the original vintage TMNT figures I still own FROM when I was a kid. He is, however, re-outfitted with a 2017-acquired replacement belt).

tmnt_vintage_shelves

I quickly got into the TMNT–tv, comics, books, movies, the figures…big-time. This lasted til 1993/1994 or so, fading from all, down to the latter issues of the Archie TMNT series. While in that series’ run I had also found and gotten a few of the Mirage issues (including #50 and 51–the start of the original City At War story) I missed most of that, and then got the first issue of the "volume 2" series, but missed the rest of that run as well, and entirely missed the Image "volume 3" series until 2000/2001.

After several years "away," I got back into the TMNT with Peter Laird‘s second issue of "volume 4" showed up–I lucked across that, and happily enough, the comic shop (JC‘s in Toledo, OH) had a copy of #1 still available as well. I followed vol. 4 into the 2003 animated series, into the second volume of Tales of the TMNT, and while vol. 4 eventually lapsed, Tales continued. We also had the 2007 film. But then at the 25th anniversary year, Laird sold the property to Viacom, and for over a year (as I recall) there just simply was no TMNT. No cartoon, no comics.

tmnt_4_main_iterations

Though somewhere in there was TMNT Forever which brought the 2003 TMNT universe into contact with the 1980s’ TMNT universe, as well as touching on the various comics (primarily the original Mirage series). In its way, it was a sort of capstone to the first 25 years of the TMNT brand.

history_of_tmnt_leo

Then in 2011, IDW launched their ongoing TMNT book (which is still going to this day–I believe #97 is out this week!) followed by Nickelodeon launching a new animated series in 2012, supported as "always" by a toyline from Playmates. That series ran til 2017 before (apparently, it seems to ME) being shelved in favor of a shift toward yet another new series, trying to reach a much younger audience with a Teen Titans Go style of animation in Rise of the TMNT.

tmnt_books

I’ve followed the IDW series for 96 issues so far–I’ve bought every issue of the series as a "new issue" since 2011’s #1, as well as all of the various one-shots, specials, annuals, and mini-series in that time. I’ve done that with no other comics series ever.

So the TMNT have been through a number of major iterations:

  • Mirage Comics (vols. 1, 2, & 4)
  • 1980s cartoon
  • Archie comics
  • 1990s films (loosely includes 2007 film)
  • Next Mutation live-action tv series
  • Image comics
  • 2003 cartoon
  • IDW comics
  • 2012 cartoon
  • 2014/2016 films
  • 2018 cartoon

That said, these don’t all line up exactly with one another; they’re not all strung one after another; there’s quite a bit of coexistence between versions. But I would say that to a certain degree, one could see them at their most "mainstream" by looking at their presence in the mass market toy aisles, which puts us (as of this typing) into the 4th (re?)incarnation (1980s/2003/2012/2018-present).

They’ve come through in different forms, making their own splash, and lasting. While none of the iterations have–in the mainstream–necessarily remained in a continuous "immortal" state, the rise/boom/fade cycle has enabled the general notion of the TMNT to survive, albeit living different lives down through time.


Highlander Memories

highlander_tpbsAs I’ve generally recalled it, I was introduced to Highlander in the summer of 1996–the summer after my freshman year of high school, ahead of sophomore year. I believe a friend had introduced me to the animated series, and talked about a live action series, that I then found in syndication on the USA network, I believe. When I found out new episodes were also airing–albeit around 11 at night on Saturdays–it wound up being something I got to share with my Dad, and became a regular thing for us for awhile: we’d watch Highlander, and sometimes whatever the show was that aired after it. And I’m sure that shared experience was one of the things that made it stick so much with me, and hold it as I do to this day.

Another important memory I have associated with the tv series is watching a couple episodes with friends back in 2005 or so after a Gen Con visit, as we assembled new miniatures we’d bought, an activity that lasted us a number of hours and episodes and movies but remains one of my favorite memories together.

Unlike TMNT, though, there’s not been much in the way of merchandise for Highlander…at least not affordably (for me). So it’s been more of a cerebral thing for me, and experiential thing…something that has mattered a great deal to me over the years, without having much to "show" for it.

highlander_novelsThere have been a couple of comics series over the years. Dynamite had the license for a short time, and I believe produced 12 issues and a mini-series, amounting to 4 TPB collections.

More recently, IDW published a 5-issue mini-series but I’m not aware of any further forthcoming Highlander comics (though I’d certainly be interested in more!)

I’m also aware of the property in games–there was a collectible card game at one point, and more recently some miniatures produced with at least two different games, though I’m not overly familiar with those.

And it seems like quite a few years now that there’s been a rumor of a reboot of the property…something I’m curious about and potentially interested in, for SOMEthing, though it’s seemed to me that the BEST of Highlander has been the tv series.


TMNT Memories

I have far more general memories with TMNT over the years; more than I can reasonably try to share in one blog post.

Whatever other toys and such I was into as a kid…it was TMNT that ruled them all. It was TMNT toys like Rocksteady that I even took to school to show off. It was the toy line I actually wanted the vehicles for–having at least the "Party Wagon" (van), the Blimp, and a "Pizza Thrower" that shot projectile pizza discs.

I remember "playing turtles" with my friend Zack for hours at a time as kids; between the two of us, having most of the figures available at the time (with plenty of overlap as well). And he had a Nintendo, and we often played the various TMNT games, particularly TMNT II: The Arcade Game when that came out. We’d even built our own playsets, and "customized" several of the figures. I especially recall our creating some sort of shirt for the barechested Shredder.

tmnt_dvds

I had the toys, storybooks, junior novels, the cereal, bedding, plush toys, the Burger King BK Kids Club edition of several of the VHS tapes, and so on.

And even as others drifted away from the property, parts stuck with me in such a way that I was easily "brought back" even as a college student and beyond.


Abrupt Concluding Thoughts

This feels like one of my least-organized blog posts. Perhaps I could have gone in-depth on the modern IDW TMNT series and details on the turtles and splinter as reincarnated entities. Perhaps some detailed synopsis of favorite Highlander episodes or specific memories of episodes of the series (Comes a Horseman particularly).

But I decided–and then backed myself into a corner time-wise–to be a bit more informal than I might otherwise have preferred. And though the comics are certainly parts of things, this is more of a general brain-dump with quasi-stream-of-conscious rambling, taking the topic "Immortal" and running with it.

If you’re reading this on my blog itself, you can type "Highlander" or "TMNT" into the search box up top and find the various posts I’ve written over the last 11-ish years and tagged with either term. Far more TMNT than Highlander, though…but you’ll find at least a review of Dynamite‘s Highlander #0 that I believe was originally published at cxPulp/Comixtreme back in the day.

Though my earliest TMNT toy pre-dates the 1990s…I’m still getting new ones! Below are my latest…TMNT Shadow Ninjas.

tmnt_newest_toys

(They’re intermixed with some other recent-ish toys and such!)


Super Blog Team-Up

super_blog_team_up_header_charltonhero

It’s been my privilege the last couple years to be part of the Super Blog Team-Up. As much as this is a blog "event" or "crossover" every now and then, the group has been a great community, with year-round nearly-daily discussion on topics related to comics and just about anything else as well as real-life topics.

It’s been a great group, brought together by shared interests, but everyone maintains their own views, topics, and so on.

For this outing, please check out these other fine blogs and podcasts as they cover their own topics from the "Immortal" heading!

super_blog_team_up_tmnt_highlander_blogtrailer

Advertisements

Super-Blog Teamup – Redemption: The Shredder

                         redemption_shredder_logo


Welcome to my first Super-Blog Team Up of 2019! The SBTU is a group of content creators (bloggers/podcasters) who periodically come together to–as a whole–touch on a certain shared topic or theme…teaming up to look at a number of different ways that the topic or theme has been done in comics and such…as we all have our own blogs and angles at covering comics and pop culture.

For this outing, the theme is Redemption, or Coming Home.

As with my last entry in the SBTU, I’ve elected to go back to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Previously, I took an in-depth look at the Mighty Mutanimals…specifically, the Death of the Mighty Mutanimals in the pages of the then-Archie-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (TMNTA) title in the early/mid 1990s.

This time out, I’m looking at probably the best-known TMNT villain–The Shredder.

shredder_vintage_toys

To start out and focus a bit, let’s look at a couple of quick definitions as found online.

Redemption: the act, process, or an instance of redeeming.

Since that’s somewhat defining something using itself, let’s go a little bit deeper…

Redeeming: serving to offset or compensate for a defect.

There we go–that’s more along the lines of my thought with the word, if I had to put it out there concretely. Redemption is taking something not-so-good, and making it better. Whether taking something I didn’t like and making it something I liked; taking some unlikeable character and making them likeable; turning a disinterest into an interest…there are a number of ways to take it.

In terms of the Shredder, my memory proved a bit faulty as I set out expecting to look at the Shredder going from an out and out villain to being–if not exactly an anti-hero, then at least more like a Magneto circa the original Age of Apocalypse. In this re-examination, though, I’ve realized that the Shredder still more than fits this idea of redemption…as the character started out JUST as "some villain" to me, grew to be an element I disliked (as the character felt over-used and over-exposed for being essentially a one-off or two-off villain in the original Mirage comics), and ultimately has become a character I’m interested in and find to be more complex and deep than just "Ha-ha-ha-ha! Tonight I dine on turtle soup!"

I’m not just observing the "fact of" there being different versions of the Shredder. The different versions have informed my interpretation of the character, the way I’ve seen or appreciated the character…and I’ve "been there for" many of their introductions and development across the years.

INTRODUCTIONS

1980s Cartoon Shredder

shredder_1987My first introduction to Shredder was via the 1980s TMNT cartoon series. You had "the turtles" and you had "Shredder." Shredder was behind the very origin of the turtles–he’d framed Hamato Yoshi as a would-be assassin, usurped the Foot Clan, was why Hamato Yoshi left Japan and wound up in New York, and so on. His machinations were what led to the turtles meeting April O’Neil, and everything that came out of that. For most of its run–and I’d say, for the part that most people know and remember, at the height of the series’ popularity–Shredder was THE villain. Where there were other antagonists, typically they were the result of something Shredder actively planned or accidentally unleashed and subsequently took advantage of. I recall numerous "plan of the episode" plots by Shredder, seeking to "destroy" the turtles, or "take over" New York, or gain "revenge" on Splinter. The series itself was largely composed of done-in-one episodes or short, contained stories. There was a little bit of "build" and some instances of "continuity" or "recurring" characters. Shredder gets a magic sword. Shredder unleashes pizza-monsters. Shredder gets knocked on the head and thinks he’s Michelangelo. Shredder gets a gravity device. Shredder this, Shredder that…

I recall not thinking much of this "as a kid." At the time, it just WAS. That was what the show was. Shredder’s the bad guy, and the turtles stop him. Sometimes he works with Krang, sometimes he and Krang are at odds, often their being at odds affords the turtles their means of victory. Especially in retrospect, it seemed overly simple, and fairly off-putting that across however many seasons, Shredder just went from plan to plan to plan and was defeated each and every time by the turtles, but always got away. He’s incapable of defeating the turtles and virtually defines insanity with trying variations of stuff again and again and again. While there were occasional "moments"–and I think specifically of "Shredder’s Mother" from an episode or two, or Shredder "creating" the "Punk Frogs" in an attempt to duplicate what he saw Splinter having with the Turtles–that allowed a glimpse of the potential for something deeper, more in-depth to explore with characterization…it just didn’t happen in this series. That alone could be a topic for a huge post or series of posts, and I’ll leave off at that.


1990 Film Shredder

shredder_1990I was already familiar with Shredder–obviously–from the cartoon series. So it just made perfect sense that he would be the villain of the movie. The film was live-action, with costumes for the turtles and various animatronic/effects to bring them to life. The film was a lot darker and seemingly more violent than the cartoon…if only for the fact of seeing "live" turtles interacting with actual humans, the violence being "actual" violence rather than just animated "cartoon violence" and all that. This Shredder, like the cartoon version, was basically a villain for the sake of being a villain. He had a history in the sense of having a past with Hamato Yoshi. But other than "just" being some jealous guy who couldn’t get the girl and so killed her and the guy she chose…he was just some figure to blindly seek the destruction of the turtles. There wasn’t much depth explored in his running the Foot and masterminding their New York crime spree. There was plenty of depth SUGGESTED, but for a relatively short "kids’ film," it wasn’t explored in any great degree in terms of him as an individual…nor was there room for such exploration in the time allotted.

When the character "returned" for the second film in 1991, it was with even less depth…no longer was he interested in this Foot Clan…he just wanted the turtles destroyed. We got Tokka and Rahzar out of this (presumably due to issues with bringing Bebop and Rocksteady to live action) with Shredder determining that he needed his own mutants to take on the turtles. Many people probably remember the "Super Shredder" from the end of the film (and this was brought back conceptually late in the 2012 series with its Tales of the TMNT season). While cool in concept, a mutagen-enhanced Super Shredder could have posed a huge threat, but wound up not even fighting the turtles–it just blindly destroyed support beams and brought a dock down on itself. I imagine this was partly a matter of budget and the extent of effects as well as time–who’d want a 2 1/2 hour film aimed at kids, after all? (ha, ha).

Again…as a kid, I didn’t think much of this, and it is much more in thinking back to it that I’ve noted various deficiencies to the character, how he was presented, and all that. I still to this day in 2019 consider TMNT (1990) one of my favorite films and will watch it time and again, year after year, sometimes more than once in any given year. But that doesn’t change just how shallow Shredder feels (to me) as depicted in this live action film universe.


Mirage Comics Shredder

shredder_mirageSomewhere around this time–1989-1991–I got ahold of several graphic novels from "the library" (utilizing the local library, but I believe via their inter-library loan system). These were colorized versions of the original TMNT comics published by First. Initially I only knew that these were a version of the turtles; but quickly realized these were essentially the actual, original comics–just colored–that introduced the characters I’d come to know from the cartoon series. They were a lot more violent–and the turtles in particular actually killed. The Foot (like in the movie, though it was the movie that was based on these comics) were human and thus could be killed (they were not the generic "robots" that the cartoon had). In looking back, I believe the first of these I read was actually the fourth, where Leonardo was first badly beaten by the Foot and then the rest of the turtles and April dealt with the Shredder being "back." This definitely stood out as the story was where large parts of the film got their inspiration…though in the film it was Raphael that was badly beaten by the Foot rather than Leonardo.

In these graphic novels, we had a Shredder who was definitely human, and in some images rather scrawny; hardly the well-muscled buffoon of the cartoon or the fancily-garbed film character. He was dangerous, meant to kill Splinter and the turtles, had killed Yoshi and Tang Shen, had Leo badly beaten, destroyed April’s home, and drove the turtles from New York. (It was some time later that I eventually learned of and got to read the Return to New York story where we found out exactly HOW Shredder had returned, and was finally finished off for good by Leonardo).

leo_defeats_shredder

One of the most memorable parts of that graphic novel was a multi-page foldout showing Shredder and a bunch of Foot waiting in ambush! And this comics version of Shredder–while not overly-well-developed–was definitely quite dangerous, perhaps moreso for not being in every single issue/chapter.

shredder_foldout


Archie Comics Shredder

tmnta01_cover_shredder_vs_turtlesMeanwhile, there was the Archie-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics. The first few issues–a 3-issue mini-series and the first 4 issues of the ongoing–directly adapted the first season and the first couple or so episodes of the second season of the cartoon. As the comic series diverged greatly from the cartoon into its own continuity, we saw a shift away from Shredder as the core/primary antagonist. He was still a major antagonist but not the primary/sole antagonist. After being defeated and jailed in TMNTA #13 he was out of the picture until TMNTA #21 and then hung around for a few issues’ stories before being "saved" by the Turtles in TMNTA #25. That story had seen Shredder violated by Krang–who had himself attached to Shredder to control his body; and certainly destroyed any likelihood of the pair "working together" again (to say nothing of Krang being left–"re-banished"–to a toxic waste dump-world basically being the last I recall offhand of Krang in that series, period). Having been saved by the turtles, Shredder was now in their debt–he owed them.

shredder_tmnta36The next time Shredder appeared was almost a year later in TMNTA #36 working with a new villain–Verminator-X. Here he and the new villain captured Splinter and were about to make off through a time-portal when Leonardo reminded Shredder that they’d saved his life and he owed them. Honoring this debt, he released Splinter back to them, declaring the score even and that the next time they crossed paths there’d be "no compromise." I don’t recall offhand if or where we ever saw this Shredder again after that, as the series had more than moved past his being a required antagonist. Perhaps that is why I’d thought I remembered a more proactive "honor" to Shredder’s behavior prior to rereading TMNTA #36.

From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #25:

shredder_owes_turtles_01

shredder_owes_turtles_02

And from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #36:shredder_owes_turtles_03

shredder_owes_turtles_04


Mid-Late ’90s Shredder

shredder_imageWhen the original Mirage TMNT series "finally" made it to 50 issues–some 8 years after #1–original creators Eastman and Laird launched their largest singular story arc in City at War, running from that 50th issue to #62. Among other things, this story introduced us to Karai, a new element in the legacy of Shredder and the Foot. In that story she at one point disguises herself as the Shredder, and eventually more or less declares the Foot to be at peace with the turtles–each group will leave one another alone. That Shredder’s influence was still felt and had Foot acting based on what he’d set in motion showed how deeply Shredder was a part of them…and how significant it’d then be for the Foot to not be seeking the turtles’ destruction.

I believe Shredder may also have been slightly used in the live-action Next Mutation series…but that continues to remain a near-complete blind spot for me in TMNT history.


2003 Cartoon Shredder

shredder_2003With a new animated series that premiered in early 2003, the TMNT were back–though this series was much more a serialized story than the one-off episodic nature of the original. This allowed it to follow comics elements a bit more, as well as to have deeper, ongoing development of characters. I recall it beings several episodes in before we met the Shredder at all, and still a few more before the turtles realized he was a threat, and several more until he really became a definitive villain figure for the series.

After a lot of development, much of which was tied to the original comics…it was eventually revealed that this Shredder wasn’t even human at all! He was actually an Utrom, one of the aliens introduced over the course of the series.

shredder_chrellTo me at the time, this was an excellent twist! Krang had been based on the Utroms, and in the ’80s cartoon was closely tied to Shredder. And in the Archie comics, Krang had once attached himself to Shredder, AS Shredder. And so here, we had an Utrom who actually was the Shredder. It also allowed for a longevity across time that would not have made sense for a single human, but played well into stuff set up throughout the 2003 series.

Ch’rell as Shredder was also involved in the 2009 animated film TMNT Forever and proved to be the most dangerous of the various Shredders to that point. This animated film essentially capped off the entirety of the TMNT to its point, ending 25 years’ development.


With the TMNT property sold to Viacom/Nickelodeon, it had a fresh start after 2009. Firstly in the 2011 debut of a new ongoing comics series from IDW, secondly in a new animated series that premiered in 2012, and then in a new iteration of live-action films in 2014 and 2016.


2012 Cartoon Shredder

shredder_2012With the 2012 TMNT animated series we had yet another Shredder. This one seemed relatively similar to previous versions, with elements of the backstory much the same–animosity with Hamato Yoshi, involvement in the turtles coming to be, and so on. But there was something deeper here, as this Shredder not only caused the death of Hamato Yoshi’s wife, but also apparently that of their daughter! However, it was then revealed that he had a daughter of his own–Karai. Yet this turned out to be only part of the story…as Karai was revealed to actually be Yoshi’s daughter–she had not been killed, but was kidnapped by Shredder and raised AS his own daughter.

While in some ways rather cliche and such, it certainly gives a bit more depth and potential to be explored–having "Shredder’s daughter" actually be the daughter of Splinter, and being thus torn between the two; deeply influenced by both.

I still have a number of blind spots even to this animated series, but recall Shredder’s absolute hatred of Yoshi–Splinter–driving him to attack and kill Splinter, even at the cost of the very Earth itself when the alien Triceratons invaded and everyone had to work together to save the Earth. I believe time travel undid that, but that he then still wound up killing Splinter later after being mutated into a Super Shredder (with a look and name based on the 1991 film version of the character).

While there’s some development and difference from previous versions–which is good–there’s something to this version of Shredder that just seems a bit uninteresting to me, being so driven by his hatred of Splinter and the turtles, as well as the 2012 series’ overt (and to me, over-) reverence of the 1980s cartoon while seemingly ignoring the 2003 series.


2014 Films Shredder

shredder_2014The newer film Shredder from the 2014 and 2016 films seems extremely flat and uninteresting to me. The only details that really stood out and that I remember are the way the armor was so over the top and ridiculous, and came off a lot like the "Silver Samurai" character from 2013’s The Wolverine film.

I vaguely recall the character essentially only having a cameo in the 2016 film. That I really don’t recall more detail about the character from either film–despite their recency, that I actually saw them, and being the TMNT fan that I am–feels rather telling about the sheer shallowness of that incarnation of the character.


IDW Comics Shredder

shredder_idw

Where it feels like Shredder has really been done the best is the IDW comics…the current ongoing continuity of the TMNT. And really, in many characters’ cases, I feel like the IDW "version" has become THE definitive version. Both for being the "current" or "live" version at present as of this writing…but also because of incorporating different elements to make an amalgamized version that takes good ideas and brings them together into a single version. Typically my favorite example is Bebop and Rocksteady, who I had thoroughly disliked from the late 1990s until their introduction in the IDW TMNT series. They’re still the big, dumb buffoons…but they’re genuinely dangerous, and we’ve seen them cause true destruction…as well as nearly kill Donatello.

Over-simplifying, perhaps, but to quickly sum up the IDW series: Splinter and the turtles are mutated animals, but they’re also the reincarnated spirits of Hamato Yoshi and his four sons who lived several hundred years ago in Japan. Shredder is the same Oroku Saki that lived then as well, resurrected via mystical means involving a member of a group of god-like entities known as The Pantheon. So there’s this multi-lifetime/multiple worlds sorta struggle going on, where an animosity from hundreds of years ago is replayed in the present.

Shredder was not introduced immediately in this series, and his introduction involved some buildup, as well as skepticism from some of the characters. He and Splinter recognized each other pretty quickly as both realized how deep their ties went–Shredder and Splinter, Oroku Saki and Hamto Yoshi. Over the course of 40 additional issues, we learned a lot more about Shredder and the Foot Clan, and there was more involving reincarnation and the interference of the Pantheon member Kitsune.

This Shredder was dangerous and deadly, tried to corrupt and kill the Hamato family (as he had done in the past), was working with alien warlord Krang for a time, and generally was a major villain that made sense, had depth and mystery and development with room for a lot more development over time.

And then 40 issues ago (#90 is a January 2019 issue), in TMNT #50, things came to a head as he and Splinter fought…and ultimately he was defeated. Not just defeated, but killed–committing seppuku. We’d learned over the series that he and Splinter–Hamato Yoshi–had been clan brothers, and raised from childhood together. Essentially actual brothers as well as sharing a clan. This alone added so much depth…especially to me, being familiar with and able to draw extra context/"feeling" from the likes of Magic the Gathering: The Brothers’ War, about a different pair of brothers and how their rivalry wrecked a world.

shredder_in_hell_logo

Now, just this month (again, January 2019) we have the beginning of a new "tie-in mini-series" TMNT: Shredder in Hell, that picks up with Shredder dealing with the spirit of the founder of the Foot and his own ties to said spirit; that everything he has done and been has been influenced; and even now, dead, he has a further journey to discover who he truly is.


THE REDEMPTION OF SHREDDER / COMING HOME

I’ve not been the biggest fan of the TMNT series since #50. Much as I’ll rail against Shredder being the end-all/be-all of TMNT villains, the way he was worked into the fabric of the IDW TMNT series, his death felt like this huge breaking point or split. Like #51 was a whole new #1 of a whole new Shredder-less series (and it absolutely WOULD have been a new #1 if TMNT was a Marvel property!). Though with Shredder’s death, Splinter wound up being leader of the Foot–a point that has forced further development of the turtles themselves as well as the relationship between them and their father…and that’s been interesting in itself, and helped to make Splinter more interesting, as more than just some wise old rat or father-figure who is always "right" and just kinda "there" for the turtles.

shredder_in_hell_from_01

We had a long introduction and building-up of IDW‘s Shredder across 50 issues. While not the SOLE antagonist, he was a major, ongoing antagonist with stuff going on in the background even if not serving as a focal point of a given story. In another life, he killed Hamato Yoshi’s sons in front of him, before killing Yoshi himself. In this life, he had a drastic effect on Leonardo, temporarily corrupting him and showing the turtle a whole different perspective on things, giving us a "dark" Leonardo…a chapter of life that has affected the turtle and still holds relevance (the City Fall story arc).

I’ve felt the absence of Shredder in the title and wondered where all it can and will go without the character…as well as where Splinter will be taken, story-wise, with the Foot; as we have never before had a TMNT series last this long with so much development in quite this way.

shredder_death01shredder_death02

Yet now with Shredder in Hell, we’re getting a new story of Oroku Saki, following events already built up, as they’re expanded a bit. And I have no idea where it’s going, but as we already have reincarnation and resurrection, it would be quite believable to see Shredder resurrected–albeit temporarily–despite seppuku. And as a 5-issue/5-month series, this will end about the time of TMNT #94…a mere 6 issues until the big 100th issue and whatever that holds.

I’m interested in this Shredder. I’m curious about where things go. I find the character engaging, and look forward to what’s going to happen. It seems plausible that even if he doesn’t physical return, there’s more yet to be "revealed" about the character that will impact the TMNT, and I believe this is the first time in nearly 35 years that there’s actually been a Shredder-focused series such as this, and I’m wishing it was weekly.

For what started out as a rather generic villain with little real development to a complex, deep character with much potential yet unexplored…IDW has certainly redeemed the character for me. Having followed the entirety of the IDW TMNT continuity since August 2011 when it started, having missed Shredder’s machinations and involvement, getting this new story with a lot of potential and all that…it is in its own way like "coming home." After a lot of time showing that there’s more than just Shredder to serve as antagonist, we’re back to Shredder having SOMETHING going on, and I’m enjoying that it’s not just some one-off thing or quickly-resolved "moment" but seems poised to be more significant.

Even if he doesn’t directly interact with the actual turtles in continuity, just the fact of getting a new story about him, now, and it having any tie at all to current continuity is a good thing, and has me all the more excited about the coming year of TMNT. This also has room to give Shredder a very solid, valid grounding as a favorite villain for me–as opposed to merely "sentimental value" or bias just for being one of the first villains I ever "met" as a kid first discovering fictional worlds and all that.


sbtu_links

Much as with my last SBTU post, this is easily one of my longest, wordiest posts…significantly beyond what I usually write. But it’s not every day that I get to participate in something like this…and with all the great work of fellow SBTU folks, I’m given the incentive to push myself to go beyond the casual usual.

Please check out my fellow bloggers and their posts, participating in this latest Super-Blog Team Up! Also look for the Twitter posts, and any other social media chatter with this project or their blogs! #SBTU #SuperBlogTeamUp


redemption_coming_home_shredder_blogtrailer

Reign of the Super-Blogs! #SBTU

Once upon a time, a group of blogs came together, forming the Super-Blog Team Up! After a number of adventures together, an unfortunate event came to pass: the Death of the Super-Blog Team Up!

But death ain’t what it’s cracked up to be.

rotsb_death_aint_all

Before long, something new began to stir in the world of the Super-Blogs. A return was afoot…but not like before.

rotsb_subscribe_now

A sense of awe descended, as, bursting forth from the void left by the original…a new reign is upon us!


rotsb_bronze_age_babies

One of the blogs on the scene is a return itself, having disappeared. With the death of #SBTU, the path was clear…perhaps what the future needs is a bit of the past!

Bronze Age Babies – Super Blog Team-Up: Time, Clock of the Heart


rotsb_chasing_amazing

Another return swinging back into action, for the void left by the #SBTU must be filled!

Chasing Amazing – Remembrance of Comics Past (Super Blog Team-Up Edition): Amazing Spider-Man #393


rotsb_ITG

Surely death can change a blog group, and an attitude may be more direct! Taking over the matter, we have another stepping forth to take things on!

ITG – Super Blog Team-Up Takeover! Bring on the Bad Guys: Meet The Extremists!


rotsb_back_in_the_bronze_age

And with the fall of the #SBTU, a fourth comes forth, bucking obscurity and standing tall, rounding out the formidable group that’s arisen!

Back in the Bronze Age – Super Blog Team-Up: Obscure Replacements, Substitutes and Resurrections in the Marvel Universe!


As the new group strides forth to fill the void, providing content in place of the original #SBTU, some with close ties, others not quite so familiar…there is a Super-Blog Team Up once more!

But even as it can be wondered if any or all are somehow the "real" deal…their presence cannot be ignored, should not be ignored!

For whatever they bring forth to the world, will any be prepared for what may yet come?

Can any blog escape a death? Will death be thrown aside at a single word?

To all things there is a time. All things begin with but a single word.

And as the Super-Blogs reign…there is a word heard by all.

It is there.

Time will tell…

rotsb_rise

"Rise."

rotsb_blogtrailer

#DIYJusticeLeague

This week, several blogs teamed up to show different interpretations of potential Justice Leagues–that is, personal dream-teams and groupings of various characters, regardless of company, time, etc!

Here’s a quick list of those of us that participated, and I really hope I haven’t missed anyone! (Give me a holler if I have!)

Please check out everyone’s posts, and even dig back through older posts. Everyone’s got great stuff–on this DIY Justice League theme, as well as their individual "blog missions", and loads of great content!


diyjusticeleague_blogtrailer

The Death of the Super-Blog Team Up Aftermath II: A Mighty Sendoff!

All the work I put into my Super-Blog Team Up post (The Death of the Mighty Mutanimals) and I completely forgot to include an image I’d stumbled across in a comic I stumbled across that touched on stuff.

This "pin up page" was in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #61.

I miss this sort of thing…in addition to the full-length issue’s contents, there were also a couple of "pin up pages," showing off art that wasn’t part of the actual story. And it was original–none of this "sketch" or "process" or "dvd-style ‘extras’" stuff that gets jammed into comics nowadays to try to "justify" $3.99 or $5.99 or such.

They were also largely the equivalent of what are nowadays done as variant covers.

But that’s another topic for another time!

Here’s the "forgotten" image:

tmnta_061_mutanimals_pin_up_page

And of course, if you missed it the other day or you’re reading this post out of context…check out the links below to my fellow bloggers, who were kind enough to include me in the (final?) Super-Blog Team Up!

All are excellent reads, and well worth checking out!

 

death_of_super_blog_team_up_banner_t_thumb

#RIPSBTU, #SBTU, #SuperBlogTeamUp

tmnta_061_mutanimals_pin_up_page_blogtrailer

The Death of the Super-Blog Team Up Aftermath (and Usagi Yojimbo)

Yesterday was my first foray into the Super-Blog Team Up, invited in by fellow blogger Chris Sheehan (of Chris is on Infinite Earths).

I had a blast working on my contribution, looking at The Death of the Mighty Mutanimals, and sharing my history with the Mutanimals, and how that all came together.

It was also probably the most prep-work I’ve done for any single writing project since my grad school days.

And while right now it’s two posts, two days in a row…I wanted to post again with links to the rest of the Super-Blog Team-Up from this outing.

 

death_of_super_blog_team_up_banner_t

#RIPSBTU, #SBTU, #SuperBlogTeamUp


I also recently (finally!!) managed to find the newest Usagi Yojimbo action figure, part of the Tales of the TMNT re-branding of Nickelodeon‘s series that’s been running since 2012!

three_usagi

Above–"classic" Usagi from the ’80s line; Usagi from the 2003 line; and "current" or "modern" Usagi fresh off a peg.

It’s a sort of relief to finally have found the figure, after weeks of too-frequent stops in Targets and Walmarts and venturing to further-away locations, and same for Toys R Us and such, hoping to find the figure.

Now I can sit back and not "worry" about finding it or "missing out" if the figures suddenly disappear from stores with the animated series ending.

Posing the figures for the photo with a fairly intentional background also reminds me that there are three more volumes of The Usagi Yojimbo Saga I want; though I’ve yet to make the time to actually sit down and read any of them yet.

Perhaps I’ll get into more on stuff later.

Super-Blog Team Up – The ’90s Revisited: The Death of the Mighty Mutanimals

death_of_super_blog_team_up_small

Welcome to my first-ever post of something larger than just my own posting in a near-vacuum! I was recently added to the Super-Blog Team Up, a group of bloggers who occasionally unite to thoroughly cover a topic or theme in a way that no blogger can do alone.

This time around, the topic is one that has become all-too common and relatively meaningless in comics: death. There are a number of other blogs that are part of this, and I’d invite and encourage you to check them all out–both for their "tie-in" posts like mine is, but also for the indiviual flavor and content of the individual blogs. It’s quite a mix, and being in such great company has led me to try to really "up" my game with my own participating post below!


The earliest days of the 1990s…

After several new mutant/animal characters were introduced in the pages of the Archie-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures title, they were eventually brought together as their own team, and spun off into their own mini-series. We went from this ad:

who_are_they_what_are_they_mutanimals_ad

…to the premiere issue of the title:

mighty_mutanimals_mini_001

The Mighty Mutanimals title took on a storyline that had been building in the pages of TMNT Adventures and following these other characters (and Raphael) as they fought the villainess Maligna, and ultimately stopped her invasion of Earth.

The characters decided they’d worked pretty well together, and decided to stick together as a group. Thus, we then had the ongoing series of the same name.

mutanimals_01_to_09

Over the course of the series, we saw them following Jagwar’s mother on the Path of the Four Winds, as she’s been interrupted by an avatar of Death.

united_we_stand

The Mutanimals catch up to, and the story reconnects with, the ongoing TMNT Adventures title for the United We Stand three-parter. This story puts the turtles and the Mutanimals against the avatars of the Apocalypse: War, Famine, Pestilence…and Death. The story sports a 3-panel image spread across the three different issues…at the end of getting the three-part story, one has the entire image and the entire story!

mutanimals07_future_shark_trilogy

From there, we’re introduced to the villainous shark Armaggon, setting the character up for The Future Shark Trilogy in TMNT Adventures.

The team then re-encounters Captain Mossback, a figure Man Ray had faced in the past with the turtles…and then Slash returns, and seems to somewhat have his story resolved.

Surprisingly (to me at the time) that Slash issue turned out to be the final issue. I didn’t much follow "solicitations" and the like, though I’d occasionally get an issue of Advance Comics to check out upcoming DC and Marvel stuff. But I found out that The Mighty Mutanimals was ending when I read the note in issue #9 stating that it was the final issue.


Solidly into the ’90s…

mutanimals_backups_tmnta

Not long after that, I learned that the Mutanimals were getting a "backup series" in the main TMNT Adventures title, and looked forward to it. The backup spanned the run-up to #50, and the return of some characters from earlier in the series. I remember having no idea how long the team would run as a backup, but figured as long as they were continuing, things would be ok.

tmnta_048_mutanimals_04

I was NOT all that enthralled with the new villains they were facing. They were very much "typical ’90s villains" and seemed to essentially be caricatures of a sort, playing off the "grim ‘n gritty" wave of characters of the time.

We were introduced to Waster, Fist, Dead-Eye, and Lynch…who were (literally) gunning for the Mutanimals.

Over the course of the backup, the Mutanimals finally got a headquarters, aided by the future-versions of Donatello and Raphael (who’d been introduced in the Future Shark Trilogy)…and of course, faced these new villains. Though a challenge, the villains were defeated…but matters became worse with the return of old foes Scul and Bean.

Managing to defeat Scul and Bean (having learned a bit since their initial run-ins), the Mutanimals were not prepared for the ambush from the thought-defeated Gang of Four. The seven-issue backup series ended with these three pages:

tmnta_054_mutanimals_06

tmnta_054_mutanimals_07

tmnta_054_mutanimals_08

I remember thinking at the time that ok, this sucked, but we’ve got the time-traveling turtles, who seemed to have little trouble coming back in time, so surely they could fix things, despite their surprise at coming back, expecting to find the Mutanimals alive, but instead slaughtered on the beach.

Of course, it’d be hard to work their time-travel magic fixy-stuff if they didn’t survive Slash, who had made his way to the site to see what was going on, and on finding the Mutanimals dead, assumed the turtles (standing over the bodies) were the culprits.

This ending led stuff back to the main story in TMNT Adventures with the three-part Terracide story.

terracide

Terracide dealt with the death of the Mutanimals, the turtles (future and present) finding their friends murdered, as well as the revelation and confrontation with the responsible parties! And dark as the Mutanimals’ backup series had been and wound up…it was sort of odd at the time seeing just how dark the main TMNT Adventures got with facing the heavy topic of such death and destruction…particularly of major characters!

TMNT Adventures #55 opens with a scene that begins pulling the main TMNT story to the path of the Mutanimals’ story, while Future-Raph and Future-Donnie deal with the immediate situation of the deaths of their friends.

tmnta_055_page_006

The turtles and Slash are interrupted by the arrival/return of Candy Fine, who witnessed the death of the Mutanimals. They get the story from her (and this basically covers the run of the backup stories).

tmnta_055_page_011

tmnta_055_page_012

tmnta_055_page_013

tmnta_055_page_014

A bit of time passes, as the future-turtles, Slash, and Candy bury their friends’ bodies, and continue to mourn and reel from the shock of this unexpected loss!

tmnta_055_page_015

tmnta_055_page_016

They leave the island, and end up meeting up with the present-day turtles, Splinter, and Ninjara. The entire group runs afoul of the Gang of Four, as well as another old foe, behind the villains and posing quite an epic threat in and of himself: Null!

tmnta_055_page_028

In typical form for comics in an age where collected editions were pretty rare and still a new-ish, unusual-ish format…there was plenty of exposition even within chapters of the same story, in a way that would be pretty unheard of with modern comics.

Continuing into the second chapter of Terracide in TMNT Adventures #56, we get another sort of re-telling of the Mutanimals’ backup series:

tmnta_056_page_009

tmnta_056_page_010

This was the sort of thing that grabbed me, that made the story seem epic and ripe with potential. Yeah, the Mutanimals were killed…but some villain’s messing with the timeline. That means time is being messed with and as such, perhaps could be undone, and at the end of the story, after some hard-fought battle, Time itself would be restored and the Mutanimals would be alive again to carry on.

After all…they wouldn’t really be killed off completely and permanently, would they?

Later in this issue, Mondo’s girlfriend encounters a live Mondo Gecko…the villainous Null messing with her. He gives her a hellish vision, of the Mutanimals suffering and burning in hell:

tmnta_056_mutanimals_in_hell

This image was a two-page spread, and quite possibly one of THE most disturbing, disquieting, uncomfortable images of the entire run of TMNT Adventures and The Mighty Mutanimals for me.

While Null escapes with Candy, the turtles and Ninjara manage to defeat the Gang of Four in a darkly permanent fashion. Despite having–to a large degree–"won" or achieved vengeance for their murdered friends…Null escaped ,and must still be dealt with.

The team splits up–which leads into the following story (this was also a time in which there were subplots and developments that would lead to larger stories, small things and large weaving in and out…but that’s a topic to get into in some other post).

In TMNT Adventures #57–Terracide part 3–we find that once more, Null was not working alone.

Once more, he has allied with Maligna!

tmnta_057_page_007

And thus, the entire Mutanimals saga basically comes full circle. The characters were brought together, formed a group, became the Mutanimals while stopping Maligna’s initial invasion attempt of Earth. Now the alien insect queen is back, and it is ultimately she who arranged for the Mutanimals’ deaths!

Pretty dark, a villain(ness) winning on such a grand scale.

But perhaps also effective in raising the stakes, showing just how dangerous she truly is (if not how flat-out lucky the Mutanimals were the first time dealing with her), and story-wise, allowing that much more a sense of stuff in the need to defeat her.

The turtles and their allies fight valiantly, but in the battle, Maligna’s ship is stalled, and headed right for the sun…they’re not even sure if they’ll escape.

tmnta_057_page_027

But Slash refuses to join them. After seeing his own world destroyed, after all he’s been through, and his rather recent "redemption" and allying with the Mutanimals only to see these new friends unceremoniously killed, he stays behind to buy the time the turtles and friends need to be capable of escape.

tmnta_057_page_028

Slash is killed ensuring Maligna and her allies cannot escape. Though the Mutanimals are gone…the orchestrators of their deaths are also taken off the board. Some measure of justice or revenge or what-have-you.


Impacting the ’90s…and Me

On the subject of death in comics, there’s plenty out there on a number of topics. Add to that that I wanted to pick a topic that I hadn’t really seen specifically covered anywhere, for my participating this first time in the Super Blog Team Up. I realized that offhand, I’d virtually never seen/heard reference to the Mighty Mutanimals by anyone else in general/casual comics discussion, and "the concept" of the Mutanimals has been somewhat redone in recent years.

Actually, their being redone has unfolded twice–once in the soon-to-end TMNT animated series from Nickleodeon, and the current ongoing comics from IDW. And a recent arc in the main TMNT book that involved the new iteration of the Mutanimals actually (for a moment as I read) gave me a slight "flashback" to the ’90s iterations’ deaths as I wondered if they were basically killing the group off in the current continuity. (Spoiler-ish: they didn’t, at least in that one). So with that stuff on my mind, I chose my topic, and here we are.

But what does/did it all MEAN?

Well, offhand, my initial response would be that their deaths didn’t really seem to mean much of anything, back in the ’90s…Not in the grand scheme of things, not outside of anyone reading Archie‘s TMNT Adventures, anyway. I don’t think I’ve ever seen reference to the Mutanimals’ deaths in any "death list" from the ’90s…I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen any mention of them in regards to the "effect of the ’90s" on comics…heck, outside of TMNT-specific sites and message forums, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them mentioned, or any of their comics covered, etc.

The death of the Mutanimals certainly never overtly–that I am aware of–particularly inspired anything or caused any great ripples or garnered any specific attention or referencing.

So now, a quarter-century later…I am doing it. I am referencing them, and this, and devoting one of (if not THE) largest blog post I’ve ever written to the topic.

I was introduced to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the fall of 1988…around the same time that I was introduced to comics (but that’s another story for another time). I resisted at first, but eventually "gave in," and then EMBRACED the concept…from the cartoon, to the toys, to books, comics, cereal, the movies, everything. I have some somewhat conflicting memories–of a lot of little elements in a relatively short time span remembered after over 25 years and 3/4 of a lifetime.

But this isn’t where I talk about my history with the turtles. This is my history with the Mutanimals.

Discovering Man Ray / Ray Fillet

afa_coversI had a birthday party at a local skating rink, and I think that might be where I was given Ray Fillet, one of the more "random" characters that I didn’t actually know anything about at the time other than what was printed on the card of the figure.

I also remember several "storybooks" of the TMNT, including one called A Fishy Adventure. This one was a story about the origin of Ray Fillet, mutated from marine biologist Jack Finney, and his first encounter with the turtles. I would later learn that it had the same story as one of the comics–an issue of TMNT Adventures. Nicely enough, said issue was the start of that series’ diverting from merely adapting episodes of the cartoon into a continuity all its own. I also got an issue of this color TMNT comic series at a flea market called The Red Barn that my aunt had worked at. I lacked plenty of context of the series–it was #17, and I don’t think I had (yet) read any other issues, except maybe #8 and possibly #11 that a friend had had. But this issue had the turtles, as well as April and a character that looked like Ray Fillet, but in the comic was called Man Ray.

Discovering Mondo Gecko

tmntadventures018I distinctly remember arguing with a friend over the pronunciation of Mondo Gecko’s name. "Mondo Geh-koh" vs. "Mondo Geek-oh." I was adamant it was "Mondo Geh-koh," largely due to one of my earliest memories in life involving toddling out to the kitchen for a drink of water and being startled by a gecko running across the front of the fridge.

I don’t know if I had the figure yet and the argument arose from the pronunciation then and there, in which case I’ve crossed memories with Ray Fillet; or from talking about the character because it appeared on the back of the card for Ray Fillet.

But I was interested in and wound up with/had Mondo Gecko. I vaguely remember the character appearing in an episode of the cartoon, but moreso I remember the issue he first appeared in in the TMNT Adventures series–#18–being one of my earliest "priced" back issues, bought for around $5 at Capp’s Comics (4+ times cover price) at a time when most new comics topped out at $1.50.

Discovering Leatherhead

tmntadventures006I’m pretty sure my earliest memory of Leatherhead is his appearance on the cartoon, bullying the "Punk Frogs," and sporting an awful cajun-ish accent that makes Gambit sound like Frank Sinatra…and a quasi-catch-phrase of "I guarantee!" I also remember the character’s figure being rather awkward and crouched over and far less "upright" the way most other characters’ figures were.

There was another "storybook," I believe TMNT: The Fight for the Turnstone, that had a completely different version of Leatherhead in it…one in which the character was an ALLY of the turtles rather than a villain, and had apparently started out as a human and was magically changed into a gator-man, rather than an alligator mutated to humanoid form.

leatherhead_wallartI also remember an image of the turtles fighting a giant alligator creature from a calendar my aunt got me (for the art, I think it was from the year before…I still have several of the pages, now framed and hanging as wall-art). I learned that this other version of the character (from the Mirage/original comics) was quite different from either version I’d encountered.

I got TMNT Adventures #6–that version of Leatherhead’s first appearance–from a bargain rack at Comics & Collectibles, another of my earliest "specific back-issue purchases/finds" in my earlier days of being "into" comics.

Discovering Wingnut and Screwloose

tmntadventures008It may well be deja vu of some sort, but I do consciously (now) know that Wingnut and Screwloose were in The Fight for the Turnstone along with Leatherhead and various other characters. Thinking back to as early as I can remember, I’m pretty sure that I first encountered these characters in TMNT Adventures #8 that a friend had, where I read their origin.

I also remember another friend (that I’d argued with over Mondo Gecko) having the Wingnut action figure that came with a miniature Screwloose, much as Muckman had come with Joe Eyeball, or several other characters came with "sidekick" like characters…except that "Wingnut and Screwloose" were more "named" and went together in a way that a lot of others (outside of Muckman and Joe Eyeball) did not.

The comics version was not much like the action figure in appearance–they were recognizably the same, on the surface, but not having the figure myself, I saw the comic version as quite different. And much like with Leatherhead, I remember their being part of the Turnstone story in that storybook, which I later learned was based on an issue or two of the TMNT Adventures comic series.

Discovering  Jagwar and Dreadmon

tmntadventures014  tmntadventures015

Jagwar and Dreadmon were slightly later introductions for me, I believe I "met" them in the TMNT Adventures 1991 Winter Special, which reprinted the Mighty Mutanimals mini-series in a single issue. I later learned of their "origin issues" and got those for about $5 each, much like with Mondo Gecko’s appearance, from the "priced" back issues bins.

I don’t remember their playing MUCH of a recurring role in TMNT Adventures the way Leatherhead or Man Ray did…I mostly recall them AS Mutanimals characters.

Discovering Slash

tmntadventures024Slash is one of the earliest villain characters I remember getting from the toy line, after Rocksteady, Bebop, and the turtles themselves with Shredder, Casey Jones, and April. At the same time, remembering getting into the toys right at the height of their major popularity, it’s possible that I actually had Slash BEFORE the four turtles themselves! I distinctly remember rummaging through pegs and pegs of figures with Dad at the local Toys R Us (which is still there, as of this posting) and him wondering if the character might be popular for also being a turtle.

I then recall the character in TMNT Adventures, from my first "off the spinner rack" issue of the title, #25; and sometime after "backtracking" to his encountering the turtles in #24, before eventually getting back to #23 at whatever point I got that issue.

I believe I saw the character also on the cartoon, though right now I don’t remember if that would’ve been before or after the comics. I do remember Mutanimals #9 with Slash’s return, and then the character’s involvement in Terracide, as well.

Winter Special 1991 – TMNT Present: Mighty Mutanimals – Invasion from Space

mutanimals_tmnt_winter_1991_specialSeveral months after getting TMNT Adventures #25, I found a thick TMNT comic on the spinner rack at Waldenbooks, along with what turned out to be the final chapter of a multi-issue story in TMNT Adventures #30. The Winter Special starred The Mighty Mutanimals, and was an EPIC story of Raph and Mondo Gecko stowing away in villainous aliens’ ship and facing Maligna in her hiveworld, while Man Ray, Jagwar, Dreadmon, Leatherhead, and Wingnut and Screwloose dealt with Malignoid insect creatures eating the rain forest and such.

I remember reading this thick issue and seeing pretty clearly the issue breaks, and "sensing" that these were like three issues (despite being one big issue). Of course, I later learned I was correct, when I discovered the three-issue Mighty Mutanimals mini-series.

I also got the first issue of the ongoing series when that came out–it was RELATED TO the TMNT, and was a #1, so…yeah! Unlike the monthly TMNT Adventures, the Mutanimals title was a somewhat bimonthly book, not actually having a new issue every month. It eventually had a crossover issue with two TMNT Adventures issues in the 1992 story United We Stand (mentioned earlier).

tmnta36_mutanimals04I have a memory of a family vacation to Niagra Falls, and finding TMNT Adventures #36 and Mighty Mutanimals #4, and making the conscious decision at that point that I’d have to "give up" collecting the turtle figures to keep up with the comics, and WANTING to keep up with the comics more, enjoying their stories and such.

I remember reading in the letters pages about the possibility of a Mutanimals cartoon and being excited at that prospect…and the disappointment when not only did that not come to pass, but that the Mutanimals series was ending at #9, perhaps to return if anything would ever come of a cartoon, but that was that.

I somewhat recall being disappointed when the then-new backup feature started in TMNT Adventures, at how few pages they got, and that it wasn’t even a full "short" story, but just a few pages of some longer story. I enjoyed that we had some new villain characters for them, and that the "future turtles" Don and Raph were involved, and the Mutanimals were getting an HQ…it seemed ripe for a long-lasting "backup" that could lead to a new series and all that.

I was completely shocked when the end of the latest chapter of the backup in TMNT Adventures #54 saw the characters shot and blown up–killed–in what would be the final "backup" feature (though that story was shifted to the primary for the three-issue Terracide arc). Given the presence of the time-traveling Raph and Don, though…I know I’d THOUGHT they’d pull something outta all the time-travel stuff and wind up saving the Mutanimals…but they didn’t. We learned of Null and Maligna’s return and through the time-travel turtles that the Mutanimals were "fated" to die and such, and that they couldn’t be saved.

I was horrified at these deaths. These characters that I’d come to know in a way, that I’d gotten to read their debut "new" and follow their ongoing series from #1 (back then, a new #1 was actually a special thing!) were a pretty big deal to me. Sure, they weren’t the turtles themselves…but they’d all premiered in the pages of the TMNT Adventures title, and had been spun off into their own title, and even back then I had fond memories of the characters.

It always stuck with me, the Mutanimals having been suddenly and without much warning machine-gunned down, then blown away with a bazooka. No fancy last words, no long-winded death scene, no real goodbyes, no cover proclamation that In This Issue: Everybody Dies!…just suddenly the characters were actually shot ‘n killed, and that was that.

While I followed the TMNT Adventures for a few more issues…I actually missed an entire 4-issue arc, and there were only 15 issues of the title at all after Terracide, so this was sorta the "last, big event" of that title. With the Mutanimals gone, it was like the "heart" of the universe went with them.

I eventually came to learn that the Mutanimals were killed off because the creators figured they’d have more impact that way. [Though the only ‘source’ I could find was this forums.thetechnodrome.com post that suggests they were killed out of anger is the closest I’ve found to an actual source to the statement, though I’m sure I’d seen something in some comic or book somewhere else in the last couple years.]

In my searching, I did stumble across a blog from Steve Lavigne and Ryan Brown with a wealth of cool Mutanimals stuff, as well as another blog that seemed to be from Ryan Brown on the Mutanimals. And there was a great TMNT Entity post about the cartoon that almost was.

At the time, I lumped the death of the Mutanimals in with the rest of the ’90s and such, as it came about when it seemed like killing off major characters was the "in thing" TO be doing in comics.

Important as the Death of Superman and Batman: Knightfall were to me as a kid, I think the Mutanimals’ death was the most shocking. I don’t recall it being at all advertised ahead of time–it just happened. Then Terracide was another dark story, and not what I "expected" of the series.

I also have to wonder, in retrospect, at the impact on me with the TMNTA series itself…I got Terracide, and the 2-part story of them rescuing Michelangeo, and the Cyber-Samurai Mutant Ninja Turtles 5-parter. But I completely missed a 4-part story involving Ninjara, and don’t remember if it was when I got that story that I also got the final couple issues of the series, or if I had gotten the final couple issues when they first came out, just having missed/skipped the previous four issues.

But in a lotta ways, the Mutanimals were largely the "heart" of the TMNTA universe beyond the core turtles. They started out as "mutants of the month," new characters created/introduced to give some "story" to action figures concepts (or so it may have seemed at the time); but they also fleshed out and populated a wider TMNT Universe and ongoing saga that was rather definitive for me as a kid…and TMNT Adventures lasted more issues than ANY other TMNT series to date, though IDW‘s run is going to surpass it next month.  

In the last couple years, it’s been "interesting" seeing some of–or some form of–the characters brought back in IDW‘s main TMNT title.

I especially remember (a couple years ago) a scene in one issue with the new iteration of Slash with Mondo Gecko that made me smile…AND inspired me to cobble together a quick image I’d posted at the time, highlighting my "joy" at the revival of an old but familiar concept:

the_mighty_mutanimals_thumb

It was also interesting seeing the concept incorporated into the 2012 Nickelodeon TMNT series as well.

I even just earlier this year acquired Leatherhead and Wingnut & Screwloose for the first time ever, "completing" my set of the classic action figures versions of the Mutanimals.

vintage_tmnt_mighty_mutanimals

But while I’m enjoying seeing the new iterations of the various characters, there’s a part of me that doesn’t exactly want to "accept" them. After all, they’re NOT "my" Mutanimals. "My" Mutanimals died in 1993, some 24 years ago.

Though I think the IDW iteration of the Mutanimals is already rivaling (if not surpassing) the longevity of the originals, it’s still a different concept to me. That said…there’s such a history to the Mutanimals as a group and individual characters that I catch myself mentally shifting some of that to the new versions of the characters.

And then over the course of the time I spent thinking about this topic, re-reading stuff, researching, and generally planning and procrastinating the actual writing of this post…two more TMNT issues came out, and each re-introduced an old, familiar character in a new way!

more_idw_mutanimals

The main TMNT title introduced the IDW iteration of Jagwar in #71…while TMNT Universe #11 introduced the IDW iteration of Dreadmon!

So while I have mixed feelings even there…it was a joyful evening to read those issues, and cool timing with me working on stuff for this post, and even manages to make me feel a bit "old" realizing how long it’s been and simply that I’ve been around long enough to see this come to pass.

But despite the ’90s, despite their deaths, despite it not seeming to impact much outside the TMNT sphere of direct influence…it’s apparent that the characters work, that they’re remembered, that they’re worth bringing into the contemporary TMNT universe/continuity…and that they matter.

I could keep going on and on…but I need to end this post somewhere.

I’ll certainly be revisiting much of this in the future, once I get back to my TMNT Revisited project/posts, covering the Archie TMNT Adventures issue-by-issue…including the Mighty Mutanimals issues.


death_of_super_blog_team_up_banner

For now, please check out my fellow bloggers and their posts, participating in this latest Super-Blog Team Up! Also look for the Twitter posts, and any other social media chatter with this project or their blogs! #RIPSBTU, #SBTU, #SuperBlogTeamUp

dosbtu_mutanimals

TO BE CONTINUED…

%d bloggers like this: