• July 2019
    S M T W T F S
    « May    
     123456
    78910111213
    14151617181920
    21222324252627
    28293031  
  • On Facebook

  • Archives

  • Categories

  • Comic Blog Elite

    Comic Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory

  • Advertisements

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #6

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures006Of Turtles and Stones and Mary Bones

Plot by: Ryan Brown and Dean Clarrain
Written by: Dean Clarrain
Pencils by: Ken Mitchroney
Inks by: Dave Garcia
Letters by: Gary Fields
Colors by: Barry Grossman
Edits by: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: November 1989
Cover Price: $1

I can’t remember for certain the first time I encountered the character of Mary Bones, but I suspect it was one of those “storybook” paperbacks put out ages back that adapted some comic stories…with a mix of memory and deja vu I feel like I learned of the Turnstone in one of those and noticed later that the comics seemed to be the source. I also have this voice of the character in my head that I can’t quite place…like I heard it as one of those comics on cassettes, and yet this was not part of either of the ones I was aware of prior to the latter part of 2014.

This issue continues the “new direction” for the TMNTA title and world-building by way of introducing new characters…this time, Leatherhead. For the timeframe I can’t imagine the character had not yet been introduced in the Mirage comics nor the cartoon. So this made for a third version of the character much different from the previous two.

We meet a man–Jess Harley–in New Orleans who sneaks into the home of an old witch named Mary Bones and steals a giant pearl. Making his way to New York to sell the object, he loses it into a sewer. On trying to retrieve it he’s confronted by the “mystical” Mary Bones herself who transforms him into a gator-man “…a Leatherhead.” Begging her to not leave him, Leatherhead falls into the latest of Shredder’s hideouts. Seizing the opportunity, Shredder lies and claims the turtles volunteered for transformation, and captured his accountant and real estate agent (Bebop and Rocksteady) and subjected them to Bones’ transformation. When they find and attack the turtles, the lie is revealed and in a rageful tantrum, Leatherhead accidentally destroys the bridge he’s on and plummets into the depths. Mary Bones appears to the turtles and informs them he’s ok, and that they’ll soon face The Final Conflict, before Raphael notices something shocking and the issue ends.

This done-in-one origin of Leatherhead works well for me though it’s a bit formulaic. Like Man Ray last issue, we’re briefly introduced to the human character, witness their transformation event, see them encounter Shredder and then by issue’s end leave, not actually joining up with or staying with the turtles.

The art’s nice and consistent with the last couple issues…I like the designs overall despite Leatherhead not looking QUITE as fearsome as he could if his teeth were drawn as pointed rather than rounded. Otherwise liked the visuals…especially the full-page premiere/establishing shot of Leatherhead.

Knowing what comes, I picked up immediately on some major foreshadowing and kinda enjoyed the “prophecy” with Mary Bones at the end, setting up a longer arc/plot point but not hijacking the core story for now.

There are still some elements of the story that are rather “convenient” and “plot-hole” like (Leatherhead falling into Shredder’s hideout, Jess going straight to New York, etc). But I’m willing to overlook them for having enjoyed this issue, and knowing there’s further development of Leatherhead imminent, and this being the start of a great run on the title and recalling how much I enjoyed later issues.

One could pretty easily pick this issue up without any prior experience with the series and enjoy it…the issue’s “cliffhanger” is hardly a cliffhanger and more a forced “hook” at the last second to try to interest one in coming back rather than closing off on an otherwise one-shot/single-issue story.

I believe next issue is where we’re introduced to the Intergalactic Wrestling and Stump Asteroid…and I look forward to getting into that.

Advertisements

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #5

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures005Something Fishy Goes Down

Plot by: Dean Clarrain & Ryan Brown
Written by: Dean Clarrain
Penciled by: Ken Mitchroney
Inked by: Dave Garcia
Lettered by: Gary Fields
Colored by: Barry Grossman
Edited by: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: October 1989
Cover Price: $1.00

Finally…while covering the original TMNT Adventures mini-series and the first few issues of this ongoing series, I’ve been eager to get to this issue–and beyond. This is where things truly start, in my mind, as this series diverges into its own continuity, away from the cartoon and Mirage comics and truly becomes its own thing.

We begin with the turtles at an aquarium, where they meet a worker who talks to them about the difference in rays and fish, before sending them out as the place is closing. Meanwhile we learn that Bebop and Rocksteady have lost a container of mutagen in the sewer. As Krang gives Shredder a dressing-down we shift scenes to find that the aquarium worker is doing some investigating on the side–disliking pollution and companies doing the polluting. He’s washed in a surge of mutagen-tainted water and disappears. The turtles decided to walk home along the shore and become targets for a torpedo from Shredder’s sub. However, they’re saved when something turns the torpedo around. The turtles find Shredder’s sub–parked for damages–end end up screwing up a mysterious figure’s plans to blow it up, as the figure doesn’t want to harm the turtles–only Shredder. While the turtles fight Bebop and Rocksteady and accidentally flood the sub, the creature–a large mutant ray calling himself Man Ray–confronts Shredder. Declining to kill the villain, Shredder gets away, and the wearied mutant returns to the water, wished well by the turtles. The day saved, the citizens of New York get their fireworks display unaware of Shredder’s plan to have destroyed the Statue of Liberty.

Man Ray (or “Ray Fillet” as the action figure was named) is probably my favorite Mutanimal character (oops, we don’t get that term for quite awhile yet)…certainly my favorite of the “new mutants” introduced in this series; if only because he was the first, and was part of the story in one of the earliest issues I’d read.

The story is solid enough if a bit “convenient” at points…but I enjoyed it a lot more than I did the adaptations of cartoon episodes. I’d totally forgotten about Man Ray having a brief appearance as a human, and would not picture the character like that otherwise. 

The art was a bit of a surprise to pay attention to–I was expecting a bigger change, but the art team’s mostly the same, which leads me to reconsider certain memories OF the art on this series, for better or worse (I think better).

The tone is “fun” yet a bit more heavy and serious than the cartoon and earlier issues…yet still far from the dark, gritty violence that could be found in the original Mirage comics.

As I recall, the next several issues also introduce new characters, as this creative team gets into some serious, fun world-building and differentiates this series from Mirage and the cartoon.

So long as one knows the “basics” of TMNT in general, this issue serves as a great #1 in my mind, and would recommend anyone interested in TMNT Adventures as a series start here rather than with anything earlier.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #4

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures004The Incredible Shrinking Turtles Part 2

Script: Beth & Ken Mitchroney
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney
Inks: Dave Garcia
Letters: Gary Fields
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ryan Brown
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie
Cover Date: July 1989
Cover Price: $1.00

This issue resumes from the previous, with Shredder holding a shrunken Empire State Building. Now having shrunk a number of buildings, he presents these to Krang as proof he is worthy of having his Foot-bots returned to him…Krang disagrees. Baxter chimes in with a turtle-tracking device, and Shredder sends him after the turtles. The turtles, meanwhile, have been dealing with things being much bigger than they’re used to, and the trials that come along with that. Escaping sewer dangers they wind up in open water, where Baxter nabs them. Placed in a specimen jar, they’re presented to Krang, and Shredder prepares to smash the miniaturized turtles. Meanwhile, Splinter and April have been stuck in traffic, but conveniently burst onto the scene (Splinter having “sensed” his students nearby and directed April to this place). While Splinter and Shredder fight, the turtles point the crystal fragment out to April, who retrieves it and holds it near them. None know how to “turn it on” but it does its thing on its own, and the turtles are restored to normal size, bursting free from their jar. As it shatters, Donnie’s bo is flung at a machine, saving Splinter. Shredder and Baxter escape with the fragment, and the turtles return home. Reflecting on their adventure, the turtles are presented with miniature pizzas, and the news that everything is back to normal.

Once more, plot-holes abound. I particularly have problems with the turtles’ escape–I can only assume they would’ve been killed WHILE growing in the jar. And the convenience of the bo flying away just right at the exact moment to shut down the machine about to kill Splinter…highly implausible. Perhaps even moreso, though: what the heck happened with the shrunken buildings? The turtles failed to stop Shredder from getting away, failed to retrieve the crystal fragment…and I hardly think Shredder and Baxter would feel generous enough to re-place and re-grow the buildings without the turtles providing intimidating incentive. Part of my problem with this is knowing that this functionally concludes this short ‘run’ on the title, and that the plot point of the shrunken/stolen buildings is (as I recall) never touched on again.

This issue adapts the 2nd half of the Incredible Shrinking Turtles episode, and while not horrible, is a little less “fun” than the previous issue. I blame that on the plot-holes glaring at me far, far more here than in reading #3. This seems a faithful adaptation of the episode, to the point that I have to wonder if everything would have come across without having seen the episode and only reading this issue.

The art is consistent with the previous issue, which obviously makes sense given the creative team carries over from the previous issue. I like the art as it is different from the cartoon and doesn’t have the feel of “trying to be” the cartoon. The characters look uniquely comic-booky while being perfectly recognizable and fitting the story and all that.

We have a change in cover art, moving from the usual Eastman/Laird/Lavigne group to Ryan Brown…a credit I had to look up as it’s not provided in the issue and I couldn’t find it on the cover. The image is a lot more cartoon-ish and doesn’t quite fit the interior, though it dos better than the previous covers with a similar visual style. It’s nothing I particularly like, though I don’t not like it. It just…is.

Despite not disliking this issue, I’m glad to be through it, and ready to dive into the rest of the series. In its own way, this is like the conclusion of a 7-issue mini-series, with next issue–#5–serving (to me) as the TRUE beginning of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures, with a creative team that leaves the cartoon behind and tells all-new original stories of the turtles, introducing new mutants and building out a great cast and “universe.”

Re-reading these past few issues–the original 3-issue mini and these 4–I do have a bit of nostalgia for the cartoon, and found myself “hearing” some of the voices in my head as I read. Not a bad thing. Still…other than being artifacts of the time, of being a non-video/VHS way to “experience” the story for kids who love the cartoon, I have very little interest in this issue or its predecessors, and one is truly NOT missing out to skip over them altogether.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #3

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures003The Incredible Shrinking Turtles Part 1

Adaptation: Beth & Ken Mitchroney
Pencilling: Ken Mitchroney
Inking: Dave Garcia
Lettering: Gary Fields
Coloring: Barry Grossman
Cover: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Steve Lavigne
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie
Cover Date: July 1989
Cover Price: $1.00

Straight away, I think this is probably the most “fun” I’ve had re-reading any of these issues so far. The cover image is of course familiar to me–both from simply seeing it through the years as well as being an obvious “Mirage” piece, certainly a large influence of Eastman. The coloring–with all the green–is a little boring, but I am a fan of thick borders around an image…there’s just something about it that works for me, so overall I do like the cover.

I like the interior art quite a bit. Mitchroney keeps a certain “fun” feel to the visuals–and the characters recognizable–while bringing a slightly different style that hasn’t been seen in the Archie issues til this. I think it’s that the turtles look like comic characters here, MEANT FOR comics, rather than just being drawn to look like the tv show. The rest of the characters hold a consistent look to previous issues, but work well to me.

The story is a straight up adaptation of the first part of the cartoon episode, but I like it here. We find the turtles working out and see them interacting when a spaceship crashes in a lake right near where the turtles were hanging out (mighty convenient, that). The turtles leap in to see if there are any survivors, and pull an alien out. The alien references an “Eye of Sarnath” and gives them a device to track the Eye. Shredder (who EXTREMELY CONVENIENTLY has been watching from within a nearby bush) decides he must have the Eye. Later, the turtles are on the hunt, as is Shredder–now having brought Baxter Stockman along. The first piece of the Eye is found on a garbage barge, and while the turtles find it first, Shredder’s right there to take it from them. They fight–Shredder defeating the turtles–and then the piece activates, shrinking the turtles. They escape to the sewers and Splinter enlists April. Before those two can act, they hear a news bulletin about the Empire State Building being shrunk and race to the scene. Already at the scene, Baxter (in a fake Police uniform) takes the shrunken building. Shortly, at Shredder’s hideout we see the villain preparing to use the building as proof of the Eye’s power to convince Krang to send him his foot soldiers.

As usual, there’s a lot crammed into a single issue, though this is thankfully less compressed than the original mini-series. Though the end isn’t much of a cliffhanger, it’s an ok breaking point to me (at least for my not yet having re-read the next issue nor rewatched the actual episode this is based on). There are some monstrous plotholes throughout the issue–something I blame on the simplicity of the cartoon this is adapted from. Despite those, as said above, this issue was a lot more fun to read than the previous five, and I look forward to getting to the second half, and maybe even re-watching the cartoon episode for good measure.

These first few issues had the look of being two-part adaptations of episodes…which could have carried this into the mid-20s on issues if the formula was kept of splitting each episode across two issues. As the first of two parts and the nature of the issues, one doesn’t really need to have read the last couple episodes to “get” this…just know the basics of the turtles and enjoy a “random” story in the (for obvious reasons) style of the ’80s cartoon.

Skipping YEARS ahead (comics-wise) I recall that this story comes back into play, which I think lends to my enjoyment of this issue…particularly with my eagerness to get back into the Clarrain/Allan run.

On the whole…nothing overly special to this issue in and of itself. No particular memories associated with this story beyond where it plays into things that story around #47. But I think it’s safe to say that of these early issues, this one’s my favorite yet!

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #2

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures002Return of the Shredder (part 2 of 2)

Written, Drawn, and Lettered by: Dave Garcia
Adapted from Scripts by: Christy Marx and David Weiss
Colored by: Barry Grossman
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Cover by: Eastman, Laird, Lavigne
Published by: Archie/Mirage
Cover Price: $1.00
Cover Date: May 1989

This issue gives us the second part of the adaptation of Return of the Shredder. There’s a lot going on in the issue as it zips through the second half of the episode. Shredder breaks Baxter Stockman out of the asylum he’s being held in and recruits him to build the greatest rat-catcher ever–which he does, capturing Splinter while the turtles are out. The turtles, meanwhile, find and take down the fake turtles gang and discover a message from Shredder. This leads them to a confrontation with the villain as he stands by with Splinter ctied to a wall and a huge battering ram situated to swing down once its rope is cut. Baxter bursts in with his modified forklift/rat-trap and provides the distraction the turtles need to rescue their master. Shredder escapes, taking Baxter with him, and tries to explain the failure to Krang. Back at April’s office, we see her boss’s fling end, and the turtles have a meta-moment in the lair watching her news report on the capture of the Crooked Ninja Turtle Gang.

Story-wise, I’m still not impressed with this. I hold that for me, at least, looking back across 20+ years–there’s little characterization here and most of what I “know” is experiential rather than learned from the issue. There are plot-holes a truck (or giant rat-catcher) could be driven through, and things seem overly simplified in their way. I also continue to lay the bulk of the blame for that on this being an adaptation, and the material it had to work from (to say nothing of the fact that this is aimed more at the audience of the ’80s cartoon series, and my present-day self is certainly far from being the target audience). That said, the adaptation is pretty faithful to the cartoon, enough so that I can “hear” the characters’ voices as I read.

Visually, the issue is in a middle ground somewhere. The art is solid, good, but not exactly a favorite. All the characters are recognizable except April’s coworker Irma, who just looks significantly “off” from her appearance in the cartoon. Beyond that my main issue with the art is primarily that it doesn’t match the cartoon exactly, and the differences are very noticeable.

Overall, the issue simply “is what it is,” the second of a two-part adaptation of a single episode. Which is far preferable to the “ultra-compressed” nature of the mini-series. While this is still compressed by contemporary standards, it fits well enough into its place in history.

My copy of this issue is in fairly rough shape–a bit yelled, rough edges, the cover doesn’t quite line up with the pages. The cover image works well, though, and is far superior to any of the interior panels of the turtles facing Baxter.

I’m looking forward to the next issue, as it’s a story I haven’t read or particularly thought about in quite awhile…plus, I’m looking forward to getting into the “new stories” that made me love this series, beginning with #5.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures001Return of the Shredder (part 1 of 2)

Art and letters by: Dave Garcia
Adapted from Scripts by: Christy Marx and David Wise
Color by: Barry Grossman
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Cover: Eastman, Laird, Lavigne
Published by: Mirage/Archie
Cover Price: $1.00
Cover Date: March 1989

We begin the issue with Mikey and Leo in a supermarket, doing some casual shopping. A couple of would-be thieves try to hold up the place, but the turtles stop them without any trouble at all. Back home, they wax nostalgic of the workout Shredder’s foot-bots gave them. Meanwhile in Dimension X, Shredder laments his recent defeat and begs Krang to send him back to earth. Tiring of the whining, Krang does so…but sends him alone. To Shredder’s surprise, he’s been left without any of his previous resources, and must make do with himself and anything new he can do.

Still meanwhile, at Channel 6, April’s boss has a new girlfriend who hates turtles, and thus he tries to impress her by pushing an anti-turtle agenda that April (of course) rebels against. Shredder recruits some thugs at a dojo and has them dress in turtle costumes…on the idea that if he turns the citizenry against the turtles, they’ll be forced to come out to defend themselves. Krang disagrees, and maintains his strict notion: Shredder’s on his own until he produces results. We leave off on Shredder musing that he’s left with just one place to turn…

While still rather corny and hokey (and I mostly blame the plot the comic’s creative team had to work with), this is a huge step up from the initial mini-series. While that was cramming nearly an episode and a half into each issue, this series gives the adaptation room to breathe. This entire issue comprises a mere HALF of one single episode.

The story feels a lot more open and a bit more complex as a result of the extra space for pacing. However, the characters all still seem rather surfacey and underdeveloped. If I didn’t already know plenty about them, I’d hardly know one from another. Additionally, April’s coworkers are little more than plot-point gags.

The art has a much different feel to it while maintaining a certain familiarity. The creative team is different from the mini-series, and other than the cover doesn’t seem to be utilizing any names I recognize as being from Mirage. The art isn’t bad, but it’s not wonderful…though I do definitely appreciate the layouts and that we aren’t given a bunch of huge splash panels or full or double-page splashes. This sticks very much to a “typical” comics feel and appearance, just differentiated by the turtles.

All in all, nothing terribly special about the issue–though I definitely like the cover. It’s one of the most “iconic” to me, and to this day it would hold up well as a poster or some oversized print, I think.

This was one of my earliest #1 issues of anything…back when #1s were actually a ‘special’ and significant thing, not something that came around every year or two for the same series again and again. Though I remember this as one of my earliest, I can’t honestly remember where I got this issue–whether it was a $5 issue at Capp’s Comics, or something I found at Comics & Collectibles. And I’m pretty sure I did not get it through American Entertainment–I remember a couple other issues from the mail-order route.

While I’ll get to it when I cover it, I’m actually more inclined to count these earliest issues as a longer mini-series, and see #5 of TMNT Adventures as being the true first issue of the run.

TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures (Mini-Series) #3

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventuresmini003Heroes in a Half-Shell!

Written and Pencilled by: Michael Dooney
Adapted from the Scripts by: David Wise and Patti Howeth
Inked by: Dave Garcia
Lettered by: Steve Lavigne
Color by: Barry Grossman
Cover by: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Steve Lavigne
Published by: Mirage/Archie
Cover Price: $1.00
Cover Date: December 1988

This issue picks up with the rock soldiers interacting with Shredder, Bebop, and Rocksteady. Krang freaks out upon learning Neutrinos are loose on Earth. Meanwhile, the turtles have just about found the technodrome when they’re buzzed by flying cars and opt to chase these instead. The rock soldiers show up and rather than put up a fight, launch a weather-making device (which our heroes promptly ignore), and everyone meets back in the technodrome (where Donatello instantly figures out the alien controls, opens the portal, and the rock soldiers are thrown back through to Dimension X and the Neutrinos voluntarily follow, to continue the fight against Krang (but without ever dealing with Krang in the technodrome). Shredder and his forces leave rather than confront the turtles here in the heart of the technodrome, and the turtles simply leave rather than even trying to find and deal with Shredder or Krang.

The next day, the Shredder re-baits the turtles, who wind up fighting Bebop and Rocksteady again. The turtles and Splinter split up to deal with different facets of the current threat. Krang gets put into the stomach of an android body and electrocuted (er…the body is activated). Shredder then sends Foot robots after the turtles as a diversion until Krang wakes. After having the turtles on the run while growing to a gigantic size, Krang simply turns and punches his way to the surface so the turtles can follow him, rather than dealing with them where they were. Donatello shows up with a blimp he’s been working on, and turns it loose with the others while he and Leo enter the android body to shrink it down. Krang calls Shredder for help, Shredder abandons his imminent victory over Splinter and shows up to point his retromutagen ray at the turtles, Splinter shows up as well and destroys it, then the story shifts back to the technodrome where the Donatello finishes some complicated thing with the portal, and everyone gets out as the whole thing is sucked into Dimension X. We see Shredder and Krang bicker, the turtles chill at home…and the story (mercifully) concludes.

Much as with the previous issue, this is ultra-compressed with an extremely fast-pace and abbreviated scenes such that the characters–from simply reading this–seem interchangeable and inconsequential. As noted also with the previous issue, this is not so much a fault of the writing of the comic as it is a shared problem between the writing of the episodes this issue is based on and trying to cram the contents of more than one episode into a single issue.

The art continues to be good–it’s a welcome visual style that as I’ve said before, holds its own without mimicking the art of the animated series. Yet, the characters are all recognizeable and nothing’s so far off as to seem otherwise (except the coloring can be kinda iffy…especially on a comic that’s got slightly yellowed pages and carries a cover date from nearly 26 years ago).

The cover would make for a decent poster, and the image alone promises something a lot more dramatic than what I read inside.

While in recent years I’ve found the “classic” TMNT animated series rather hokey and have been rather put-off by it, revisiting this miniseries and the episodes themselves has admittedly made me rather nostalgic, and rekindled my interest in the old series. I may not binge-watch the entire thing or even finish tracking down all the seasons…but I’ve been reminded of how much my younger self loved this stuff, and failed to notice the level of hokiness my present-day adult self sees.

From looking at this simply as a comic series, it’s nothing special for the content by itself. What makes this special is that it’s a color series starring the turtles, designed and aimed at the audience of the 1980s cartoon, and is a #1 issue I can actually afford (and have a duplicate or two somewhere, too).

Though I missed this mini-series when it was originally published, it was still something I was able to track down relatively easily a number of years ago, far moreso than ever the original Mirage #1, which I content myself to this day with reprint editions of that.

I can’t imagine something like this mini-series–or this issue–being published today; but it’s certainly a product of its time, and quite worthwhile to get as a fan of the TMNT in general, and the Archie-published stuff in particular.

%d bloggers like this: