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TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #17

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures017Fight the Power

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney
Clean-Ups: Buz McKim
Inks: Dan Berger
Colors: Barry Grossman
Letters: Gary Fields
Cover: Ryan Brown, Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: February 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

Though we left off in the previous issue with the turtles on a beach and Mikey noticing a shooting star, we pick up a bit later here. Of course, that wasn’t so much a cliffhanger last issue as it was simply “where the issue ended,” with Bubbla’s burial. A meteor heads toward Earth, carrying Scul and Bean–agents of Maligna, the insectoid queen we were introduced to back just before The Final Conflict in TMNT Adventures #12. Though Krang was defeated and never followed through on his bargain with her, Maligna’s set her sights on Earth. Back to the turtles and April–Man Ray has them riding humpback whales for the final leg of their journey back to the US.

The group stops one last time at a derelict ship sitting out in the open, where Man Ray discovers some shrimp-trawlers are not using Turtle Extruder Devices, and ambushes the ship. He’s captured by the pirate captain of the ship, prompting the turtles to mount a rescue and put an end to the use of illegal trawling nets and subsequent killing of turtles and other sea life. Then as the issue ends, we learn that the mysterious Mr. Null has allied with Scul and Bean.

In a lotta ways, this is a fairly generic issue on the whole. We have the bookending of Scul and Bean’s arrival and revelation of alliance with Null; between we have a generic-ish one-shot of the turtles and a random “threat of the month” in the pirates’ illegal trawling. While we’d seen Scul or Bean before, I don’t recall either of them being named, so their appearance and naming in this issue qualify them for the “mutant of the month.” They’re also the main forward-movement of this issue’s story for the overall plot of the series.

Despite that, we DO get the turtles’ arrival back in the US after several issues away, and a lesson in nets used for shrimping and such, that devices exist to preserve sea life while allowing shrimp to be caught, and the threat posed to sea life when these devices are not utilized. And somehow I found this issue, this instance of such lesson-teaching far less preachy and a lot more “personal” than prior such cases. Perhaps that we see a dead turtle and our heroes are mutated turtles; perhaps it’s that this is shown as something much closer to home rather than on another continent, I don’t know.

This is another Mitchroney-drawn issue, maintaining a consistency for several issues now, that I’m definitely enjoying. No real complaints or problems with the art. The writing itself keeps things moving forward even though the “core” story is generic with a one-off villain/threat in the pirates.

Probably most significant for me is that this issue was the first single-issue of TMNT Adventures that I recall owning, bought at a flea market The Red Barn in Columbus (Ohio). I’m not sure if the edition I have here on-hand is the original copy I’d bought or a newer copy (without a barcode, perhaps) I picked up sometime since then. I went from this issue to my next being #25 some time after…whether this was new at the time or a “back issue” I’m not certain.

And probably FOR being my earliest issue, the cover stands out to me and is probably one of my favorites. There’s an ad in this issue for a poster one can get of the cover by joining a conservation group…I might have to see if I can track a copy down.

All in all, a good issue, the reading of which brought back some good memories, and certainly remind me that even as a 10-year-old I had no problem with the turtles looking a bit different than the cartoon; April not being dressed in yellow; this Man Ray character that I recall wondering at the name (I knew him as “Ray Fillet” thanks to the action figure), and had no idea about Scul, Bean, Kid Terra, Null, or why the turtles were “returning” to the U.S., etc. Yet I don’t recall any problem with it or not “accepting” it…everything just “was,” and didn’t discourage me from getting later issues once I figured out the series was ongoing.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #16

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures016DREADging the Ocean Blue

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney
Inks: Dan Berger
Colors: Barry Grossman
Letters: Gary Fields
Cover: Steve Lavigne, Ken Mitchroney
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: January 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

The turtles and April part ways with Jagwar and Dreadmon here, as they reach the Atlantic. The beach they find is covered in trash, but Donatello’s able to whip up a couple of tube rafts with propulsion and the turtles set out with April. April journals the journey, allowing for narration to the readers without having her overstating the obvious to her travel companions. The group finds an island thanks to some dolphins, though they’re surprised by a submersible vehicle that grabs them. Once docked, the turtles and April are offloaded into a holding room where they meet Bubbla the Glublub and are reunited with Man Ray–the manta-man they met back in issue #5.

After Man Ray recounts his time between that and this, the group realizes one of the walls of their prison is a thin two-way mirror and break out, where they begin to fight their way out of the place. “Kid,” the person who has been following them for Mr. Null shoots at Man Ray but hits Bubbla instead, killing him and enraging the mutant manta, who tears the place apart. With the help of some sea turtles, our turtles and April escape, and later (with Man Ray) hold a burial for the fallen Glublub.

I’m liking the continuity here. Jagwar carried over from a couple issues ago, while Dreadmon’s still here from last issue. But rather than the characters be “dragged around” or such, they’re (realistically) left near their “home territory” as the turtles continue their journey toward–ultimately–New York. We also get Man Ray back in things with an accounting of what he’s been up to for the last 10-11 issues. There’s something to revisiting his character lately, these earliest of his appearances, where I’m seeing a different depth to him than I recall. The death of Bubbla is a major event in his life that I recall being touched on repeatedly later in the continuity…and it happens rather fast and on-panel here…no time for touching goodbyes or last words or such, and that’s fittingly real, I imagine. It’s also rather dark…and offhand, I believe it’s the first death of a named character in this series. So to take a character like that and kill the character on-panel definitely sets this apart from what we’ve seen before, and puts more “danger” in the story–not EVERYONE gets out alive, minor character or not.

I also like April’s journaling…it’s reminiscent of the original Mirage book, and it’s nice to see, as well as the exposition it supplies. However, given the mode of transportation for the characters and April joining them in swimming to shore…I’ve got to wonder exactly how she keeps the journal intact and dry! I don’t remember it from any prior readings of the issue, but when Man Ray introduces himself to April, he acknowledges that some know him as Ray Fillet…which is a nice nod to the action figure; same character but two different names. Which came first, I’m not sure offhand, and it really doesn’t matter to me.

Mitchroney provides the art again this issue, another two-in-a-row rather than the alternating of the earlier issues. There are a couple questionable panels of Man Ray, though by and large I love how he looks here. No real complaints or problems with the visuals that I haven’t touched in before and felt extremely nitpicky on…it works for this series, the story, is recognizable and all that…in short, it’s good.

Though I’d functionally read issues 1-2 and the original mini-series thanks to the Random House editions of Return of the Shredder and Heroes in a Half-Shell, I believe the next issue is the earliest issue I actually read of this series recognizing it as such. We’re also getting closer to further payoff with a number of the “mutants of the month” characters and one of the larger (that I recall) stories in this entire series…and I’m REALLY looking forward to it!

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #15

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tmntadventures015The Howling of Distant Shadows

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney
Inks: Dan Berger
Colors: Barry Grossman
Clean-Ups: Buz McKim
Letters: Gary Fields
Cover: Steve Lavigne
Editors: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: Month 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

This issue introduces us to Dreadmon, another of the Mutant/Animal characters that will soon play an even larger role in the series. As the issue opens, we find April, the turtles, and Jagwar using a raft they built as they journey through the land by river. They come to a village where they’re welcomed, and their aid requested. They’re also told of a half-man/half wolf the village has been feeding. The turtles and Jagwar find a strip mine operating on slave labor–the kidnapped villagers they’re to rescue. When one of the guards/enforcers gets the drop on Jagwar, he’s rescued by the “were-wolf” they’d encountered at the village, who reveals himself as Dreadmon. Villagers rescued, everyone returns to the village.

The cover is a bit “off” for me–not so much the art, but the imagery…we have Raph pointing at the wolf-figure like they’re getting ready to attack, Leo looking rather alarmed at Jagwar, while Mikey and DOnnie just look alarmed and unhappy. 

The interior art is good. April’s outfit looks similar to her cartoon version stylistically, just brown instead of the horrid bright yellow. Raph has ditched the top half of his black costume (keeping black pants, essentially). While he COULD look scary, Dreadmon actually looks rather happy for the most part, which could fit the personality as things develop…here, it works in showing that he’s not actually a threat to the turtles and friends.

The story itself remains somewhat simple, and in this issue certainly much less “preachy” on the environmentalism. We have another new “mutant of the month” in Dreadmon, and another new threat in humans vs. the land/environment. However…at least it isn’t yet another thing with Shredder. We also continue the subplot of whoever Mr. Null is, being fed information about the turtles, and I know where this goes, that it’s building to something big, though it’s not yet overly obvious just how big at this point.

Another issue that may not be tops on my list of stories and all, but we do get the introduction of another major character, and at minimum I can appreciate the issue for that fact alone. I do enjoy the “Lost World” and seeing the turtles in this kind of environment away from “the city” and their “usual” to this point. I’m also glad to see little moments, such as Mikey expressing that he trusts Cudley though his brothers do not. It’s little things like that that do build the larger tapestry around the characters, making them that much more “real.”

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #14

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures014Leave Heaven Alone

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Donald Simpson
Inks: Dan Berger
Colors: Barry Grossman
Letters: Gary Fields
Cover: Ryan Brown, Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Editors: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: September 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

After the last few issues that built to essentially a “season finale,” this issue marks a decent jumping-on point, much as a low-key “season premiere” of a tv show.

Cudley returns the turtles to Earth after their Final Conflict in Dimension X that saw the dismissal of Shredder, Krang, Bebop, and Rocksteady from their lives. He drops them at a not-so-arbitrary arbitrary point in Brazil (rather than back home to New York) and quickly leaves them to their fate. Getting their bearings, the turtles quickly realize they’re not in New York, and are greeted by a new figure–a humanoid jagwar named…Jagwar. Greeting each other in peace, the group is shot at by some mercenaries and forced to retreat into the rainforest, to a temple Jagwar lives in. He explains that an American journalist has been captured, and he means to set her free…the turtles, of course, opt to join him in the endeavor. It turns out the journalist is the turtles’ friend April, and she’s quite glad to see them, having feared never to do so again. Meanwhile, in New York a businessman named Mr. Null (apparently the employer of the mercenaries) is told of the mutant animals’ interference and requests more information on them.

This series predates the days where EVERY comic was a chapter of a specific story arc (the eventual collected volume/”graphic novel”), so there’s not necessarily a “hard start” nor “hard end” to a series of issues. That said, this issue is definitely the start of a new series of issues, a new “story arc.” Taken as a “season premiere” this is a decent piece…we get our main characters back, April is back for the first time in quite awhile (and sporting a new look, away from the perpetual yellow getup), we get a new character (back to “mutant of the month”) in Jagwar, and the ominous hint of a new villain in Mr. Null.

Of course, I know where things go with the character…I suspect I’d have pretty much ignored his page back in the day if I had no idea what was to come. I’d wonder a bit at where things were to go from here if I were reading this in a vacuum, but knowing where things go I’m looking forward to how this plays into coming issues.

There’s a bit of what I now would consider heavy-handed lecturing on the issue of rainforest destruction and such, and overly-dramatic/preachy dialogue to that direction. As a kid I didn’t notice it or took it for granted or such…it was simply part of the story rooted in the real world with stuff I was only beginning to “hear about.” As an adult with a much different world-view and far more experience than I had as a kid, I don’t appreciate the lecturing, though I see where it’s a benefit in terms of telling a story as well as exposing kids to a real-world issue (the destruction of rainforests). Despite that, I’m glad to see April back in the fold, and it’s interesting to see the turtles in an environment that isn’t just New York or Outer Space.

Visually, I’m not a fan of the issue. Rather than Lawson or Mitchroney, we have a new artist on this issue–Donald Simpson. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure I recognize the art from some of the TMNT Adventures Specials and such…unfortunately, it’s a style I really don’t enjoy, and the turtles just look weird–slightly lumpy, and I don’t care for the hints of scales or such. It’s also quite a departure from the cover…I far prefer that look to the interior. As always in such “judgment,” I must acknowledge that the art is a far cry better than anything I could produce…I just don’t like it myself…personal tastes.

All said, this isn’t the greatest issue, but it’s not horrible. At the least, it introduces Jagwar…a fairly major recurring character in the TMNTA universe and kicks off this new adventure of the turtles in the Amazon.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #13

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures013The Final Conflict

Plot: Dean Clarrain & Ryan Brown
Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney
Clean-Ups: Buz McKim
Inks: Dan Berger
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Cover: Steve Lavigne, Ken Mitchroney
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: August 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

Anymore, a thirteenth issue would seem a bit more special than it was even made out to be in the ’90s. Twelve issues is typically a single year, and a fairly standard-ish length for a “maxi-series” or such. Thirteen begins the second year of publishing, meaning a book has lasted past that first year. Of course, the TMNT Adventures book started out roughly bimonthly before eventually moving to a monthly schedule, so 13 isn’t all that significant…except that (sure, it’s a “stretch”) a lot of non-basic-network tv shows seem to be 13 episodes to a season/series, and I really like the analogy and have come to stick with the notion of looking at this comic series as a progression of “seasons.”

This is a “fun” issue…and certainly not the most standard of things the way it opens. Despite the cliffhanger of the previous issue–the turtles and their allies surrounded by Maligna’s insectoids–we spend the first several pages of this issue with Stump and Sling (the Intergalactic Wrestling promotors/hosts) going live with a broadcast, filling their viewers in on recent events (basically, TMNT Adventures #12), clarifying who the “players” are, and then throwing us (the reader/viewers) into the action.

While fighting the warrior children of Maligna, the turtles and allies realize that they’re being filmed…they’d agreed to another wrestling match for Stump, but rather than a repeat of the previous time it seems they’ve actually agreed to be filmed fighting for the Turnstone. Wingnut and Screwloose take off, though they wind up getting to make trouble for Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady. Leonardo and Trap find they have different notions of what works in battle, and Leatherhead finds himself hurled out of the arena in what turns out to be a fortuitous–if not predestined–turn of events. Maligna’s warriors are defeated, though Krang blasts the arena, scattering the victors before taking off. Meanwhile, Leatherhead finds the Turnstone, and manages to summon Cherubae. Seeking answers, he asks her WHY she transformed him, and she suggests that it was to ensure he’d be here, to be in the right place at the right time to get the Turnstone before Krang.

Leatherhead hands the Turnstone off to her, and she brings the conflict to an immediate end, banishing the villains and arranging for everyone to return to where they’re going…as well as ensuring the Turnstone will cause no further problems.

This is another Mitchroney-art issue, which I have no problem with. I definitely appreciate his designs for the characters, and I like the look. This also adds a consistency carrying over from the previous issue, giving a little bit more of a unified whole to the story than “just” a couple of single issues that happen to carry a continuation of story.

The story itself–the writing–for me is probably at its best so far, as we’ve gone from “mutant of the month” to a more unified continuity involving characters beyond just the four turtles. We wouldn’t have the characters we do here if there hadn’t been some of those “mutant of the month” issues and foundations put down, though. The previous issue suggested a difference in Bebop and Rocksteady from their cartoon counterparts (and even from the earlier issues of this series that adapted episodes from the cartoon). This issue does what it seemed the cartoon would never do (I know it sort of did eventually): resolve Krang, Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady’s story, taking them off the board.

Bebop and Rockstead are sent to a world of animals where they can “run free” amongst ’em…and their reaction seems to confirm that in this continuity, they ARE mutated animals rather than mutated humans. Shredder is sent to prison–presumably the Turnstone’s nudged reality to account for the logical process of having Oroku Saki behind bars and not cut loose the moment someone realizes there’s a random extra person amidst their prison population. And Krang is banished to a toxic waste dump world. Thus, without KILLING any of them, these primary antagonists known from the cartoon are effectively removed from their place of threat, leaving the board clear for the turtles to move on without constantly facing these four.

And that’s certainly another thing I enjoyed here–getting to see a resolution, much as a season finale, combined with the fact that I do know what’s to come, and that the turtles get plenty of adventures NOT involving Shredder being a problem.

This certainly could have served as a series finale, but thankfully the book continues, as we really get to see more development of these characters’ world while learning of the real world at the same time. Though this series is collected in primarily 4-issue chunks at present (and in the ’90s 3-issue chunks), it’d be great to see a larger collected volume with the 9 post-cartoon-adaptation issues thus far as a single piece.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #12

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures012The Lost World

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney
Inks: Dan Berger
Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Editors: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: July 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

While this series has diverged from the cartoon continuity that started things off, this issue gives us a new change to Bebop and Rocksteady rather than a “mutant of the month.” Where in the cartoon, the two were human punks that Shredder mutated with the mutagen ooze…this issue opens with Rocksteady dreaming/remembering being a rhino in Africa…suggesting that he and Bebop are mutated animals rather than mutated humans.

The villains have arrived in Dimension X, seeking the turtles and their rescuer–Cherubae, the true form of the “swamp witch” Mary Bones. Planetside, Cherubae fills the turtles in on stuff over a campfire–her background, why she (and Krang) were on Earth, the Turnstone. Before long, Krang’s ship comes upon them, and things move into action. Krang blasts Cherubae, and she drops the Turnstone, though no one sees exactly where it lands. Realizing they can’t help her, the turtles set out to locate the fallen Turnstone. The Sons of Silence–seemingly allied with Krang–disappear and take Cherubae, leaving the others behind. Krang sends Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady to seek the Turnstone, while Krang himself zips off to enlist aid from a being named Maligna.

In exchange for the promise of being led to Earth to have her way with it, Krang is granted the aid he seeks. Still searching for the Turnstone, the turtles come across an old coliseum. Before they can really check it out, they’re met by Cudley, serving as middleman (middleCOW?) for Stump and Sling. If they’ll agree to wrestle again, they’ll be given immediate allies. Swallowing their pride, the turtles agree, and Cudley spits out Wingnut, Screwloose, Leatherhead, and a new face–Trap. As Cudley leaves, the group contemplates what to do from here, when they realize they’re surrounded by a number of bug-creatures: Maligna’s children.

I definitely like the story here. For one thing, it sets this series even further apart from the cartoon, while playing with the characters we’re used to. Krang continues to not use (or even have?) his android body, nor does he seem particularly concerned. Bebop and Rocksteady are given some new depth, though it’s possible I’m reading more into it in this issue, knowing what comes later. I’m quite glad that we’re not given long, drawn-out mysteries and such, other than the “prophecy” and buildup toward The Final Conflict. Mary Bones was Mary Bones until last issue, and just pages after we learn she’s actually someone else, that someone is explained to us (and the turtles). We’re also introduced to Maligna, who I’d totally forgotten appeared here. The character is rather generic in this issue…but this sets up some major story beats for coming issues, and Maligna’s impact on the series carries through the late #50s if I recall.

I really very much enjoy Mitchroney‘s art, and suppose at least for now as I reread these issues, he’s high on my list of preferred TMNT artists. There’s nothing I really need to comment on visually here that I haven’t touched on with previous issues.

While we’ve had some quasi-cliffhangers, I’d consider the end of this issue to be the first “major” such cliffhanger as the turtles and their allies are about to be forced into a fight sooner than they could’ve expected. And as I noted with the previous issue, this feels a bit like one of the final episodes of a tv season, getting to the big-stakes endgame and facing a “big bad” and all that with characters that could’ve been pretty much one-offs being brought back into play and a definite sense of continuity from things laid as foundation points over the prior run of episodes.

I’m definitely looking forward to reading the next issue, and totally enjoying getting back into these stories for the first time in close to two decades, and certainly more than half a lifetime.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #11

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tmntadventures011White Light

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Jim Lawson
Inks & Letters: Gary Fields
Colors: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Editors: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: June 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

The issue begins with Bebop and Rocksteady, who’ve been trapped in the rubble from the cave-in back in #9. While they contemplate hunger and a weird smell (that neither will claim credit for) a white light shines and several figures emerge, before the scene shifts to the turtles noticing the abundance of rats. They find themselves “herded”  to a figure named Ha’ntaan, who calls himself the Rat King and claims anywhere a rat is found as part of his kingdom. Getting by without particular conflict, the turtles continue their search for Shredder and soon find a trail of chemicals and wastes in the waterflow of the sewer, finding their way to a giant Foot Soldier robot guarding something. Said something turns out to be a trap as the turtles are captured by the figures that Bebop and Rocksteady saw at the beginning of the issue. These figures are a group of aliens called the Sons of Silence, and apparently are working with Krang (and by extension, Shredder). While the villains celebrate their pending victory over their enemies, the scene is observed through the Turnstone by Mary Bones…who decides her time on Earth is at an end and drops the disguise. She uses the Turnstone to rescue the turtles, while Krang & Co. head back to Dimension X in a modified-into-a-spaceship Technodrome.

There’s something a little bit “off” with this issue’s visuals. We’re on a Lawson issue, but there’s something to this issue that made me think it was someone else. I can’t really complain too much as the art’s far from bad, but as I’ve come to really like Mitchroney‘s art on this version of the turtles, I’m less impressed with Lawson‘s. There are a couple panels that I do really like, of Raph amidst the rats, where the rats themselves are quite expressive and I actually felt for the little critters. Despite being a bit “off,” the art isn’t bad, and everyone’s recognizable and everything is gotten across that needs to be for my enjoyment of the story.

The story itself is back to what I consider a bit more of the “mythology” of the series, with things coming together toward the “Final Conflict.” While I mention in my summary above Mary Bones “rescuing” the turtles, I suppose we don’t know for sure that that’s what she’s done, only that she’s removed them from Krang and the Sons of Silence. These Sons are not mutants–or don’t appear to be–and with Mary Bones’ reference to them, she knows of them and they seem thus to be aliens, perhaps from Dimension X.

I remember this issue being one of the hardest of the early issues for me to track down, though I can’t honestly remember WHEN I finally managed to do so, nor where I found it…whether it was an issue I found somewhere in-person or if it’s one of a handful I acquired via eBay in the early 2000s while I was in college. I’d known OF the Rat King from the action figure and cartoon, and thanks to stuff like Wizard and whatnot knew he’d been in this issue, #11…but even much as I remember other characters and what became of them in this series, this issue felt like a brand-new read, as if I hadn’t read it before. That, and a slight bit of deja vu in “memory” regarding a couple panels.

I’m a little disappointed there wasn’t MORE to the Rat King himself, what he’s about, an origin, etc., in this issue…but as I believe he’s a Mirage character that was carried over into this title, it’s a bit different than characters created by the guys working on this book. The character is a bit of a dim spot for me, knowing I’ve seen the character in the Mirage vol. 4 books and I believe also during City at War.

If I’m recalling correctly, this issue is sort of a “bridge” between the “development” issues and the issues where a number of these characters–the “mutants of the month”–come back into play. Reflecting at present, it’s occurred to me that it’s much like a tv season, with The Final Conflict serving as the end of this “first season” of TMNT Adventures.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #10

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tmntadventures010Going Down?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #9

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures009Codename: Chameleon

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #8

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures008Wild Things

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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