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The ’90s Revisited: TMNT Adventures: The Year of the Turtle #3

90s_revisited

tmnt_adventures_year_of_the_turtle_003Year of the Turtle Chapter Three: Story’s End!

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Hugh Haynes
Inker: Elman Brown, Phil Sheehy
Colorist: Chia-Chi Wang
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Cover Artists: Ron Lim, Elman Brown, Heroic Age
Interior Separations: Graphic Colour Works
Production Manager: Caryn Antoniuk
Production: Joe Pepitone, Pat Spaziante, Frank Gagliardo
Editor: Freddy Mendez
Managing Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: March 1996
Cover Price: $1.50

While I’m pretty certain I’d read this issue once before (over 20 years ago, though) other than a couple of broad, key details it didn’t see all that familiar; it was more like reading it for a first time after having read ABOUT it or some such.

We pick up with Splinter (no mention of Hamato Yoshi?!?) in "man form" (human) getting reacquainted with his human specs and realizing the turtles are in trouble, so rushing to their aid. The turtles, meanwhile, reel over the shock of Michelangelo’s transformation while trying to keep the villains from getting the final piece of the amulet. Long story short ("it’s comics") they wind up teleporting to Shredder’s lair and fighting the villain, having realized that the only way to save ("restore") Michelangelo is to see that the amulet is put together, but that they get to use it instead of Shredder. "Chaos" ensues and at the appointed time and place, the amulet is literally on Michelangelo…and its phenomenal, cosmic power is used to enlarge a slice of pizza. Shredder is so angered that he goes catatonic, while Splinter and the other turtles are able to use the amulet to "restore" Michelangelo…albeit without his memory. So we see that it IS Mikey who is the "child" Splinter has been telling the stories to. And while it was the "last" turtles story…we see that it should have been tempered with "so far" all along.

As with the previous issues, the art works well enough. It’s not great but not horrible. It certainly fits the characters and story in general, even if it’s fairly generic design-wise. As I’m not overly-engaged or thrilled with the story, my lack of enthusiasm carries over to the art, perhaps unfairly. I’ll take it readily over certain other designs for the turtles…especially thinking of the more recent Rise of the TMNT character designs that I do not care for.

Story wise I feel like this was a bit of a waste…like a failed pilot or some such. Rather than even being left with the idea of Michelangelo having to re-learn everything and who everyone is and his part of the group dynamics…we see Splinter revealing that his arms are getting hairier as the effects of the artifact wear off and thus implies he’s going to revert to his mutated form again…so we’re left to assume the same for Michelangelo (Which makes me wonder why Splinter and the turtles had to act to restore Mikey if the changes wrought by the artifact are wearing off on their own?) It’s tied up TOO neatly, and as only a 3-issue thing with no follow-up (ever, that I’m aware of) it goes from something with huge promise and potential impact on the characters should its continuity be used to a forgettable 3-part story of all of 70-ish pages.

Granted, some of my feeling on the thing is the past 18+ years of having "decompressed storytelling" as the "norm" and the rise of the rigid 4-issue and 6-issue arcs for convenient "graphic novel" packaging. In 2020, 3 issues seems way too short, like there should have been a lot more space for exploration of characters, situations, and so on…and like this should have been the start of something longer with the turtles having to adjust to a new status quo of Splinter as a man, and protecting(?) Mikey while he re-trains and relearns everything…and perhaps see personality stuff for him in being TOLD what and who he WAS vs. who he now IS and such.

As a whole, this Year of the Turtle mini is an interesting curiosity while not having anything crucial or lasting. It’s more a "footnote" in the history of the TMNT property.

I don’t recall how much I had paid for #3 here; certainly no more than $10 and almost certainly quite a bit less as I’d remember a significant price. I know I paid $5 for #2 at some point last year (the price sticker was still on the bag/board), and $8 for #1 earlier this year (recency/email receipt for that detail). Essentially, I  paid probably under $25for the 3 issues, putting it well on-par with just any 4-5 issues of a present-day series. I’m also a completist and want to have every TMNT issue published by Archie.

I’m not aware of this story being REPRINTED anywhere, so the actual, physical single issues are–I believe–the only way to read this. But if you’re a casual fan or otherwise not interested in "everything," you can definitely pass on this without truly missing anything significant. If you’re a fan of Dan Slott and want to read some of his early stuff, that’d be another reason to track these down. Overall, I’d recommend some of the later IDW collected volumes of the Archie stuff for more depth and weight of story…or perhaps some of the actual IDW TMNT content that "counts" and "matters" in the present ongoing TMNT continuity.

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The ’90s Revisited: TMNT Adventures: The Year of the Turtle #2

90s_revisited

tmnt_adventures_year_of_the_turtle_002Year of the Turtle Chapter Two: Snow Way Out!

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Hugh Haynes
Inker: Elman Brown
Colorist: Chia-Chi Wang
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Cover Artists: Ron Lim, Scott Koblish, Heroic Age
Interior Separations: Graphic Colour Works
Production Manager: Caryn Antoniuk
Production: Joe Pepitone, Pat Spaziante, Frank Gagliardo
Editor: Freddy Mendez
Managing Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: February 1996
Cover Price: $1.50

Even as this issue opens, I know more than I "should," as I remember having read the 3rd issue two decades or so back. It’s interesting to notice the fact that we never actually see the child Splinter is interacting with. Already knowing that takes some of the wonder of it away, but isn’t a huge deal kicking the issue off.

There IS a "previously" page that sums up the previous issue…but with far more specific detail and context than was even conveyed IN the issue. Basically a TELLING rather than SHOWING, that lends a bit of (1) weakness to that issue in retrospect and (2) influenced my (retroactive) understanding of that issue, that I’m sure influenced my write-up. I’m not too keen on that fact, but…hey. Comic books.

Story-teller Splinter (the man) finds the child’s room a mess, but being a man of his word, continues his telling of the last Ninja Turtles story. Shredder has 2 of the 3 parts of the artifact, so it’s a race to the final piece. After his ambush of Splinter, Shredder has scrolls that detail the hidden fortress the piece is in, meaning that his hench-people know where traps and such are, while the Turtles are seeking blindly. Though they survive some surprises and locate the final piece…T.K.O. uses telekinesis to liberate it from the turtles. All have to escape the ninja-monks guarding the facility. Once outside, trying to show off, the villains go to add insult to injury, which gives the turtles an "extra" chance at retrieving the artifact…when an explosion happens. The turtles check in with each other but can’t find Michelangelo at first. Then, amidst ninja gear (a familiar orange mask and dual nunchakus) they find…a turtle. An ORDINARY non-mutant turtle. (Remember the artifact piece Shredder had undid SPLINTER’s mutation last issue). And speaking of…story-teller Splinter tells his child that that’s enough of the story for now, and if the room is cleaned, the final part of the story is next.

Even though the characters are turtles, I can’t think of MANY examples of them overtly utilizing their shells in any creative fashion. Leo and Mikey pulling into their shells while Raph and Donnie use them as snowboards makes sense in a way, though can’t be comfortable (and one MIGHT wonder at a broken shell if they hit a rock or such!).

The villains are cheesey ’90s-themed characters in names and abilities. I ought to leave it at that. I suppose I appreciate them a bit more than Waster, Fist, Dead-Eye, and Lynch–the "EXTREME!" villains that did in the Mutanimals during their backup run in TMNTA 48-54. They’re still dumb and cheesey, very dated as of 2020 (granted, this is from 24 years ago!), so whatever.

I don’t really care for this Shredder. He doesn’t come off as much of anything from before–comics or movies, despite having the look of the 1990 film Shredder. We also have a fair bit of having to take stuff at face value with the hench-folks…though their ease of getting the artifact and then blowing their advantage to try to do in the turtles does seem like the stupid, bone-headed move Bebop and Rocksteady would do in the cartoon that would allow the turtles escape/survival when they otherwise would not have done either.

For my memories of the original cartoon (especially the early episodes) I recall the turtles straddling the line between Splinter’s mutation (Hamato Yoshi stuck as an animal) being a curse while their own (regular turtles to sentient humanoid turtles) was a blessing, and the "threat" of ever coming in contact with Mutagen again as that would turn them "back" into ordinary turtles. Seeing Michelangelo thus reverted is a new/original development for an actuality in the story; and holds great potential. At least, in the sense of opening a lot of possible stories and ongoing development. The character was not KILLED, but was unexpectedly and suddenly removed from the equation, and opens a load of questions.

As with the previous issue, the art’s not bad…though it lacks the charm of the ongoing TMNTA series. I do look forward a bit to (re) reading the third and final issue to "close the loop" with this series, even though with reading THIS issue, I believe I’ve now technically read the whole thing.

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The ’90s Revisited: TMNT Adventures: The Year of the Turtle #1

90s_revisited

tmnt_adventures_year_of_the_turtle_001Year of the Turtle Chapter One: Go, Go Mutant Turtles!

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciler: Hugh Haynes
Inkers: Harvey Mercadoocasio, Phil Sheehy
Colorist: Philip Lynch
Letterer: Jeff Powell
Cover Artists: Ron Lim, Harvey Mercadoocasio, Heroic Age
Interior Separations: Graphic Colour Works
Production Manager: Caryn Antoniuk
Production: Joe Pepitone, Pat Spaziante, Frank
Gagliardo
Editor: Freddy Mendez
Managing Editor: Victor Gorelick
Editor-in-Chief: Richard Goldwater
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: January 1996
Cover Price: $1.50

I’m not CERTAIN when I discovered this mini-series. I have some vague memory of reading the third issue "back in the day," most likely from the library…so it’s likely been at LEAST 20-22 years (it came out in late-1995/early-1996). I only just (early-2020) acquired this first issue, and though I’m years behind in writing up my TMNT Revisited posts on the Archie series, I decided to dive into this one as something pretty much all-new to me.

This came after the ongoing Archie Adventure Series TMNT Adventures, and is functionally "volume 3," as there was a 3-issue mini-series, then the 72-issue ongoing series, and then this. I expected this to be a continuation/follow-up…perhaps like a "tv movie sequel" to a long-running series. However…expectation didn’t match reality!

We open on a man telling his child(?) about the last story of the Ninja Turtles. We find Shredder seeking some mystical artifact, and though his Foot Soldiers have failed against the defenses arrayed before it, he single-handedly takes down the defenders and claims the piece. Meanwhile, Splinter and the turtles are seeing another piece, and realize that one of the Mighty Mecha Power Raiders on tv seems to have it in/as his belt buckle…so they head to Radio City (where the MMPR actors are performing) to claim it before Shredder does. Shredder has some new hench-people includig Cyberius, and T.K.O. that he sends to get that next piece of the artifact, while he personally descends into the sewers and sneaks up on and catches Splinter unaware. The two battle, and while Splinter manages to escape/survive, he is by no means victorious over the villain. The hench-folks manage to get the piece of the artifact…not a good day for the turtles and Splinter! On returning home, the turtles find Splinter has been transformed! Somehow due to the artifact, his mutation has been undone…leaving him a man once more! Closing out the issue, we see that the storyteller from the opening of the issue is indeed Splinter…

From the cover, I knew there was some sort of reference to the Power Rangers. In the issue itself, within the turtles’ universe, these are the Mighty Mecha Power Raiders. Obviously meant to represent the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers…only without being anything official, and drawing on the popularity of that franchise and its notoriety in popular culture…especially for the time! What ESPECIALLY drew my attention with it was having JUST a couple days before reading this issue read Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers/TMNT #4–the 4th issue of 5 being published in 2020 by Boom and IDW!

Story-wise, this issue quickly reveals itself to not be a continuation or follow-up to the long-running series. For one thing, it’s an entirely different creative team. It also uses rather bland, generic versions of the characters…particularly the Shredder. The villain is shown with a look more akin to the 1990 film than the ’80s/’90s animated series, further separating from the TMNTA ongoing; and is back to evil for evil’s sake–no real or apparent motivation other than BEING evil.

There’s no real depth to any of the characters, though some weight is added in the storyteller’s reference to the "last" Ninja Turtles story, as if this WAS the FINAL ADVENTURE or such. Certainly the throw-away of the bested, defeated Foot lends to that. They could be slaughtered, if there’s no need to have them available for later stories! April is relegated to a tv news reporter ON TV without even interacting with the turtles; after her evolution throughout the ongoing series. And though we do find that the storyteller IS Splinter, we’re left hanging as to who the apparent child is he’s telling the story to and how they came together. Biological child? Adoptive? How much time has passed since Splinter was with the turtles? Are we to think this is another reality where Splinter and his turtles are just a series of stories being told to a child?

I do NOT know if this is Dan Slott‘s first writing gig in comics…but it’s certainly an EARLY gig. It’s not truly bad or anything, and structurally works pretty well (despite my questions in the paragraph above). Framing sequence that plays into/comes back out of the main story; we’re introduced to the villains, the heroes, the situation, and see some movement through the situation (gathering the artifact), etc.

The art is also by no means horrible, but lacks something from the ongoing series. Even though this is a completely separate series, creative team, etc.–it came after a 72-issue run with lots of characters and development, and being ONLY 3 issues (a mere 4% against the ongoing) would have a LOT to "live up to," especially without even the built-in depth of adapting episodes of the cartoon.

All in all, while the issue wasn’t particularly enjoyable to me, it was interesting to finally read. It’s also very possible that I’d built it up in my mind over two decades and so "expected" a lot more from it. Ultimately…it’s a TMNT comic book. I don’t believe it’s ever even been reprinted (IDW hasn’t even reprinted the TMNTA Specials, and also skipped most of the Mighty Mutanimals issues as well as 5 issues of TMNTA itself) so there’s some incentive to tracking the issues down as a completist or out of curiosity. Story-wise, it doesn’t seem to be anything significant, and its generic-ness and timing doesn’t do it any favors.

tmnt_adventures_year_of_the_turtle_001_blogtrailer

The Weekly Haul: Week of July 18, 2018

This was a small week comics-wise!

weeklyhaul_07182018a

New Batman, first issue of Archie Meets Batman ’66, a #0-issue for Rise of the TMNT, and the second issue of The Magic Order. I either haven’t read #1 yet despite buying it, or have totally forgotten it already, but went ahead and picked up #2 to be sure to have it. Whether I’d go on to a 3rd issue remains to be seen!


I ended up splurging on some new DuckTales stuff this week:

weeklyhaul_07182018b

I was VERRRRRRRY glad to find that Launchpad is available as a single-figure card, and NOT exclusive to the Suncatcher (plane) playset, and got him, as well as Flintheart Glomgold.

weeklyhaul_07182018c

Larger view of Launchpad…

weeklyhaul_07182018d

Larger view of Glomgold…

weeklyhaul_07182018g

I also went ahead and bought the Target-exclusive 10-inch Scrooge McDuck Pop vinyl (From Funko. Not being much of a statues guy, this one struck me as "statuesque" and though it’s not my favorite interpretation of Scrooge, I like it for what it is.

weeklyhaul_07182018e

The cats didn’t know what to make of Scrooge, though, and both came over to check him out before I could even get him outta the box!

weeklyhaul_07182018f

Sarah took off after determining that he wasn’t food, treat, nor comics to lay on. Chloe settled in to ask how she might obtain the same sort of financial success as Scrooge…

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TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #25

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures025Raw Power

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Chris Allan
Inks: Rod Ollerenshaw
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Edits: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: October 1991
Cover Price: $1.25

This is another very special issue in my personal history with the turtles: this was THE first issue I ever got of TMNT Adventures at Waldenbooks as a then-new issue “off the rack,” still some months before I ever discovered such a thing as a comic shop. Along with that, the way I’ve mentally divided the series into “seasons” over the course of this re-reading project, I do see this as a “second season” finale.

The issue starts with a shot of the outside of a couple stores, as we’re left to imagine the naked Bebop and Rocksteady doing their shopping for clothes and guns. As they gather supplies, we return to the main thrust of the action–the TMNT vs. Slash, Bellybomb, and Krang as Shredder’s head. The bulk of the story is the details of the fights–Krang/Shredder vs. Leonardo, Donatello and Mikey vs. Bellybomb, and Raph vs. Slash. While they all fight, we find Bebop and Rocksteady freeing zoo animals, while bantering and generally enjoying themselves. Slash gets distracted remembering that he’s looking for his palm tree and leaves the fight; Bellybomb is knocked out by his own “mega-halitosis” and Raph gets Krang of Shredder, leaving the villain in the turtles’ debt. When Bebop and Rocksteady show up leading an army of dangerous animals, the turtles are out-gunned and out-numbered and consider cashing in that debt…but turns out the mutant duo is quite satisfied simply with the turtles admitting defeat. They just want to go home, and agree to take Bellybomb and Krang with them.

So the “season” ends with Shredder leaving to ponder the turtles’ having saved his life and “owing” them; Krang and Bellybomb are left back on Morbus (but not on a sinking barrel this time). Slash finds his palm tree and seems happy. The turtles return home…and Bebop/Rocksteady, too, return home. We have to continue on to the backup for April’s whereabouts, but that ends on a bit of a cliffhanger such that I could live with it within the “season” analogy.

Dragon Rage

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Chris Allan
Inks: Mark Pacella
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Edits: Victor Gorelick

Chu Hsi has brought forth the Warrior Dragon, and attempts to rescue Fu Sheng from the ninjas that’ve kidnapped him. Though the Dragon has little physical trouble with the ninjas, one of them throws a strange powder in his face…causing him to revert back to human form, and the naked fireman is dragged off with April unable to do anything but watch.

When I first read this issue more than two decades ago I had no idea who Bellybomb or Chu Hsi were, where they’d come from, etc. They were just simply “there.” I’d recognized Slash from the action figure; the turtles and Shredder/Krang as well as Bebop and Rocksteady were givens, of course. However, the Shredder/Krang relationship obviously was not what it was in the cartoon, and Bebop and Rocksteady are portrayed quite differently here than in the cartoon but everyone was still obvious as to who they were and all that, otherwise.

This time through I obviously have the “full” context of the series to date so (among other things) actually know that Krang attached himself to Shredders head and it only just happened at the end of the previous issue, as opposed to a multi-issue development or some such. Bellybomb’s not some long-time foe in this series any more than he is any other TMNT book; Slash is the generic mean/evil-turtle longing for his palm tree, and the story just “is.”

From the dialogue between them, we get a lot of exposition on Rocksteady and Bebop as well as the clarification that they actually DID start out human, but have the MEMORIES and such of the animals they were mutated from (apparently a slightly different mutagen than what transformed the turtles and Splinter). I’m not entirely sure if I’m disappointed at that or not, having come to kinda like the notion of them being mutated animals rather than mutated humans.

I’m not entirely sure how I feel about the two leaving the turtles…on one hand it’s a letdown and inconsistent with their brash talk in other issues of dealing with them. Yet, given their time on the Eden planet and such, I can accept it. All the more as I believe this is the last we see of them until the TMNT 30th Anniversary Special from IDW last year.

The backup story is another short snippet that goes by rather quickly and simply. I appreciate its placement as a separate thing from the main story as that allows it to breathe while not being shoehorned into the main story. Knowing what it leads to certainly colors my perspective and lends “meaning” to it, as the story otherwise seems rather generic, getting such a little piece of it here.

Having Allan back on pencils for the entirety of the issue is a welcome thing, main story as well as backup. Liking his work, I don’t have much to say on it except it’s good and this being roughly where I joined the series it makes sense that he was a definitive artist on the characters for me.

If this were a tv show, I suppose the backup stuff would have been worked into the main body of the “episodes,” leaving us on Chu Hsi’s capture as the cliffhanger to keep us hooked for the next season.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #24

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures024Gimme Danger!

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Garret Ho, Jim Lawson
Inks: Brian Thomas, Rod Ollerenshaw
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: September 1991
Cover Price: $1.25

Well, there goes my thoughts of a consistency moving forward with Allan on art…or at least, that was my first thought with a different style to the art from the first page. Turns out this is a split issue with a lead story and a backup!

The lead story finds Krang and new allies Bellybomb and Slash arriving on an “Eden planet” (planets set aside by elder races of Dimension X as nature preserves/places of peace). Conveniently they arrive not only at the PLANET Cherubae sent Bebop and Rocksteady, but in the very field the two are hanging out. The ship having let its live cargo off, the group is free to return to their Earthbound journey, no longer captive to the ship’s auto-programming. On Earth, Shredder prunes a bonzai tree while lamenting his recent defeat…even as the turtles draw close, having found this latest base. While they fight, Krang has piloted his gang to the HQ and crashes in, leaving the turtles to fight Slash, Bellybomb, Bebop, and Rocksteady while he hides and waits for Shredder. Krang’s plan for revenge and acquisition of a new body prove a “two birds/one stone” situation as he takes control of Shredder’s body, somehow attaching himself to Shredder’s head/face.

The art’s a bit “off,” with both Ho and Lawson splitting the story. After so enjoying the previous issue, the art on this one is quite a letdown. It’s not bad, but definitely different and not what I was expecting. Ho‘s work has come to be somewhat familiar, though I found Lawson‘s part seemed to be a lot different than his last time around with this title. Compared to Mitchroney and Allan, though, this is not a preference for me.

It Started in Chinatown

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Chris Allan
Inks: Mark Pacella
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick

Though we got a full 20-page story, we also get a “backup story,” starring April as she meets up with new friends Chu Hsi and Fu Sheng. When Fu Sheng is kidnapped, and Chu and April are unable to take on a small army of ninjas, Chu calls forth the warrior dragon spirit to aid the situation.

I had completely forgotten about this backup…I was thinking it’d be a few more issues before we’d hear from Chu and the Dragon again. I’d also forgotten that the “solo April stories” started this early in the run.

Though the story is a rather short, fast-paced segment, it’s cool to see April on her own, competently handling a katana, and having a life away from the turtles. Granted, we only really see her with a couple people the turtles just recently had involvement with, but the point stands. She’s not just simply hanging out with the turtles or fulfilling some stupid damsel-in-distress role.

I don’t recall how many chapters there were to this backup series, but it might throw a small wrench into my “season” analogy if it carries beyond two chapters.

I’d have to research Allan‘s work to see if this was his first series, and if there’s anything on why he was on the backup and not the main feature. Still, seeing more of his depiction of April is a welcome treat, and I look forward to the next issue.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #23

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures023Search and Destroy

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Chris Allan
Inks: Brian Thomas
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: August 1991
Cover Price: $1.25

Well…THAT is more like it! Other than vaguely recalling that Krang was in this issue at some point (mostly from the cover), I couldn’t have told you what the story was about off the top of my head. But reading the issue? It was just an enjoyable experience!

We have YET ANOTHER new artist on the book in Chris Allan. From what I recall, though, this change STICKS. While I quite enjoyed Mitchroney‘s work, I’m pretty sure Allan stayed on for quite some time and it’s his work that I most associate with the book, through most of the rest of its run.

The visual style is similar to what’s come before, but a bit different from Mitchroney‘s; a sort of pleasant consistency with a hint of difference that settles in as the run goes on. For this issue in particular, I just like the look and feel of the various characters.

We don’t really get an explicit recap of recent events in this issue as we get to see the turtles having some down-time in a heated hot-tub Donatello’s rigged up. Their conversation serves as exposition to refresh [my] mind on recent events as well as explain stuff that happened off-panel: namely how Raph returned to Earth, the whereabouts of Mondo Gecko, and the resolution of the Maligna/invasion stuff. April, meanwhile, declines to join the turtles…having no interest in the heated SEWER WATER. In Dimension X, the barrel that Krang was banished to on Morbus (back in #13’s Final Conflict) is sinking, and he laments the defeat as well as his imminent fate. However, he’s about to have an encounter with a very DIFFERENT humanoid turtle. Back on Earth, Splinter finds the group and declares it time to go on the offensive–seek out Shredder proactively rather than just sit around with him “out there.”

The turtles head to Chinatown while April stays behind to continue her training with Splinter. On Morbus, Krang meets Slash, who rescues him as the two ally themselves for the foreseeable future. They soon come across a just-arriving prison/transport ship and assist the prisoner in defeating the guards, and the group heads toward Earth. As this is going on, the turtles find some kids preparing to use a bazooka to hit an armored car on the street above from the secrecy of the sewer. Though the bazooka goes off, ultimately the kids are no match for the turtles who leave them for the authorities while taking their guns to destroy them…little knowing the threat headed toward Earth.

I like the narrative style of this issue, with dialogue serving to transition back and forth between the events on Earth and Morbus. While Shredder’s bursting back into things a few issues ago was outta nowhere, this issue gives us the “subplot” detailing Krang’s allying himself with new/alien characters to make his way toward Earth.

As said at the start of this post…I really enjoyed this issue as a whole. We have the turtles in both low-key and action sequences…we have April just hanging out with them as well as continuing her time with Splinter; we have Krang, we have new characters, and we have build up to a new conflict as we head toward what I’ve come to see as a “second-season finale” with the return of this villain that was defeated at the end of the first “season.” (Yet, unlike contemporary 2016 comics that are marketed somewhat as “seasons,” this series maintains its ongoing numbering with no reboots or variant covers or such).

Compared to the previous three issues, this is fantastic, and I think I’d recommend jumping from #19 and the Mutanimals mini-series to this and just ignore #s 20-22.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #22

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures022Rat Trap

Script: Dean Clarrain
Art: Gene Colan
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Cover: Gene Colan, Steve Lavigne
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: July 1991
Cover Price: $1.25

I imagine it’s just a typo and a missed error, taking stuff for granted…but reading through this issue I was really taken aback by a panel with Shredder addressing Splinter as Hamata Yoshi…rather than the long-established Hamato Yoshi. Were the letters upper/lowercase I’d wonder if it was a case of faded or blurred ink or such, an ‘o’ coming to look like an ‘a’, but the all-caps nature makes the ‘A’ pretty darned distinct from an ‘O’. And I suppose if one’s working with the material all the time, stuff will come to be taken for granted, though I’m not sure if the blame here lies entirely with the writer or letterer, though I’d share blame across both and the editing team for missing the spelling of a primary character’s name.

That all said, this isn’t a bad issue on the whole, though it feels–again–rather generic in the larger scope of things.

We open with a recap of the last few issues, bringing us to Leo, Mikey, April, and Splinter barging into a trap laid by the Shredder, though it’s essentially “we know it’s a trap” and “he knows we know it’s a trap” and “we’re going in anyway because we have to” and “he knew we’d have to and would” and…yeah. So ultimately we wind up with a Shredder/Splinter battle, and just when it seems Shredder’s about to win, a new figure bursts onto the scene and pretty much defeats Shredder…though the figure is revealed to be Raphael, back (without Mondo Gecko) from stopping the alien invasion. The group’s joyful reunion is short lived as they soon notice that Shredder has escaped. But hey, at least the group is back together.

Despite–or perhaps because of–the Shredder’s presence and involvement, this feels like a weaker, generic story to me. I don’t care for the character, and at least for my contemporary 2016 sensibilities being applied to 25-year-old writing geared toward a different age range, I don’t like the lack of explanation of Shredder’s escape, nor having had any foreshadowing whatsoever to his return. This is probably all the more frustrating to me as a reader now because of my high regard and rose-tinted lenses “memory” of all the numerous subplots I tend to think comics used to carry that would weave in and out of “major plot point” status.

Simply AS a TMNT story, in the established continuity, this works, especially with Splinter’s continued active involvement over sitting at home waiting all the time. I know what comes later in the series, so like with the lead-up to the Mutanimals stuff, I’m eager to get to the next several issues for personal reasons, so forcing myself to slow down for an issue like this holds added disappointment.

We again have a different artist on the book…Gene Colan. Unlike some of the other “fill-in artists,” this is a name I recognize (and having paused for a few moments to look up and confirm where I know the name from, I’m even more impressed, as Colan was involved in a lot of early Marvel work). The visual style is similar to earlier presentations of these characters, but different enough to notice that there’s a difference. I appreciate Colan‘s Shredder more than the other characters, and once again also appreciate the coloring, which maintains that much more consistency despite different artists, in a way that I’m sure would be a far more jarring shift issue to issue otherwise.

While I don’t remember for certain on #21 (last issue), I’m pretty sure I remember finding this issue at the same flea market I found #17. Whether this was before or after I’d gotten #25 I’m not 100% but this cover stirs some bit of abstract memory in that regard, to my 10-year-old self starting to figure out comics and the first bits of specifically looking for what I now know as “back issues.”

I hold that this is another issue that could easily be skipped…really, though I’m glad the Mutanimals got their own spin-off stuff, the Mighty Mutanimals mini-series would have worked just fine for me within the TMNT Adventures series even if it meant three months of no Splinter, April, or Leo/Donnie/Mikey.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #21

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures021Space Junk, Face Funk, Cyber Punk, Thief

Script: Dean Clarrain
Art: Byron Vaughns
Letters: Gary Fields
Color: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ryan Brown, Steve Lavigne, Ken Mitchroney
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: June 1991
Cover Price: $1.25

While a lot of the earlier issues of this series were ones that I could recall the basics of the issue’s events from before, just looking at the covers…I had this one chalked up as a random, forgettable one-off. I was a bit surprised (even as my memory of the events were rekindled) at some of the issue’s events.

Rather than a mutant-creature-of-the-month, this issue gives us a mutant/cyborg character in Vid Vicious. Vicious is an ordinary human fed up with bad news about the human-generated destruction of the planet. He gains the power to "do" something about it when a satellite fuses with chemical waste and crashes into the ground outside his cabin. Meanwhile, the turtles spar as they wait for April and Splinter…but before those two can rejoin them, Vicious appears through April’s computer monitor and kidnaps her. It turns out he wants her to record/broadcast his message to the world before he disrupts world wide communications. Fortunately, Donatello’s able to track him, and the turtles arrive to save April. Our heroes gain the upper hand, and the cyborg tries to escape into a nearby computer, but Donatello hitches a ride and is pulled in with him. While the group tries to figure out how they might be able to rescue Donatello, Shredder with some Foot bots bursts in. As the bots are fought, Shredder messes with the computer, copying Donatello and Vicious to a disk before escaping out the window, leaving the turtles shocked and horrified at what they’ve just witnessed.

Vicious is hardly an inspiring villain, nor all that interesting to me. His existence is rather preachy and dated–this whole issue is–and leaves me rather cold. The story is very much of its time, and continues the trend of including an educational narrative within the fiction/fantasy of the issue itself. I’m just not all that appreciative of it right now as an adult. I’m definitely put off by the way computers are depicted here…but then, this comic is a QUARTER-CENTURY old, and computers (and their depiction in media) have come a long, Long, LONG way since early/mid 1991. Despite that–and strange as it may sound–there’s a part of me that sees Shredder’s disk with Donatello and Vicious as being akin to the flat-crystal Phantom Zone from the Superman films and later-2000s pre-52 DC continuity. In that sense I’m ok with it, abstract as that may be.

Visually we have another new/different artist on the issue, and though the style isn’t bad it’s a little weird-looking to me. The characters all seem a bit more cartooney than usual, and some of the perspectives seem just a bit "off" to me.

Shredder’s appearance is out of nowhere to me…though I can appreciate that from the sense of leaving us as readers on the same page with the turtles, there wasn’t even any foreshadowing that he was thinking of escaping, trying to escape, or had escaped prison, so even though I somewhat suspect that’ll be detailed in the next issue, for now with THIS issue it just came from nowhere.

As with #20, this seems somewhat filler-ish while the Mutanimals mini deals with the main payoff and action for the month, leaving this as a secondary story. I’m almost certain there’s recap in the next issue such that this one really isn’t essential to "get" that story. Given that, this is another issue than can be pretty easily passed by–It’s hardly a "mythology" issue and primarily only counts if you’re trying to read every single issue for the sake of having read every single issue.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #20

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures020Sun and Steel

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Bill Wray
Inks: Hilary Barta, John Beatty, Mark Pacella
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ryan Brown, Jim Lawson
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: May 1991
Cover Price: $1.25

Back in the days before "everything" was collected in full runs in collected volumes and every issue might be someone’s FIRST, there might not necessarily have been a recap page…stuff might simply be given as exposition in characters’ conversation or some such. In the case of this title, we get a several-page recap of the previous issue and Mighty Mutanimals #1 and then pick up immediately from there.

Null, Scul, Bean, as well as Raph and Mondo Gecko (stowaways) are gone via alien spacecraft, leaving the other turtles, Splinter, and April to deal with the arrival of police at Null’s building. The group escapes into Chinatown…but before they make it back to a sewer they witness a huge fire. When the sound of a baby is heard from within, one of the firemen–Chu Hsi–rushes in to save the child. An old man with a shop on the bottom floor throws a golden, dragon-shaped container into the building, where it smashes next to the fallen fireman…and the dragon spirit within bonds with him, transforming the fireman into a giant golden dragon. The turtles, old man, fireman, and April leave, though the fire still rages. Meanwhile, a giant Foot soldier bursts out of a building untouched by the fire and begins to menace the area. The turtles spring into action fighting it, but with no success. Splinter realizes the fireman can call forth the dragon at will, and encourages him to do so. The dragon puts a quick end to the giant Foot bot, the fire burns itself out, and Chu Hsi is left with the old man from the shop to face a future in which he is bonded to the spirit of the ancient dragon.

After the lead up to the Maligna/Invasion stuff, and the Mutanimals mini-series and then the event itself, this issue is quite a letdown for me. There’s also the huge plot-hole in that I simply cannot "believe" that the Statue of Liberty having a giant robot land on it would survive unscathed. This story takes us back to the "mutant of the month" in a sense, introducing us to a giant golden dragon–an ancient spirit bonded with a human fireman. That he immediately trusts the turtles and they he is another plot point that seems over-simplified…but I’ll accept it for what it is.

I recall that this character comes back into play later, in what I’m going to consider the "third season" of this title…but otherwise this seems like just a generic one-issue/one-off tale to get the turtles away from Null’s building and move things forward despite the missing Raphael.

Visually we have an entirely different art team than usual, which is rather noticeable to me. I’m not all that keen on the turtles’ appearance…but I rather like Splinter and April…and the dragon himself looks good throughout the issue. The giant Foot bot works for what it is, but I’m not all that impressed and echo the turtles’ question of when/where Shredder would’ve had the resources to have the thing built to begin with. I do like that the bot’s "speech bubbles" are skulls, indicating that it simply wants to kill…and I chuckled to myself when–after the turtles had "annoyed" it–the skulls showed with bandanas around ’em as the bot had refocused on killing the turtles specifically.

As a whole, this isn’t a bad issue though it’s far from a favorite. Recalling that Chu Hsi is a recurring character lends some "importance" to his introduction here for me, though he’d otherwise seem to be just a one-off throwaway that’s full of potential but not really explored. While Clarrain as writer maintains a consistency of sorts, this feels like a sort of "filler" issue, like this title’s on hold while the main action unfolds in the Mutanimals mini. I’m looking forward to issues 23-25…but not so much the next couple issues (21-22). Aside from seeing the on-panel introduction/first appearance of Chu Hsi and the Dragon, I’d consider this an entirely skip-able issue.

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