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TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #19

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures019The Man Who Sold the World

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #18

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures018Mondo Metal

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

tmnt_adventures_revisited

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.

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