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TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #24

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tmntadventures024Gimme Danger!

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

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

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

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

It Started in Chinatown

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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 #9

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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 #7

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tmntadventures007Plotted by: Dean Clarrain and Ryan Brown
Written by: Dean Clarrain
Penciled by: Jim Lawson
Inked & Lettered by: Gary Fields
Colored by: Barry Grossman
Cover: Ryan Brown
Editors: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: December 1989
Cover Price: $1.00

Now, this is a trip down memory lane! Unlike contemporary comics that MIGHT have a “previously…” page or some kind of recap…this is absolutely from the days when any given issue might be someone’s first, and acknowledgement would be given to that with exposition catching one up, or some sort of recap. This issue takes a couple pages to recap recent events (TMNT Adventures #s 5 & 6 specifically) right to the final panel of the previous issue, picking up immediately from there.

The turtles are spit out by a cow head, in front of a couple of living tree-figures. We as readers (along with the turtles) are quickly introduced to Stump and Sling (the trees) and Cudley the Cowlick (the cow head). Cudley can travel through space and time, carrying others in his mouth. Stump and Sling run Intergalactic Wrestling from Sump Arena, and they’re presently on Stump Asteroid. The turtles are forced to wrestle an alien named Cryin’ Houn’, while learning that Leatherhead is still alive (also grabbed by Cudley) and he’s facing Ace Duck. The wrestling matches end with the turtles and Leatherhead victorious, and Stump and sling are forced to send the turtles home (Leatherhead elects to stay, feeling he has no place back on Earth). Cudley accidentally returns the turtles first to Earth 100 years in their future (giving them a glimpse of a world ravaged by environmental disaster. Interspersed through the issue we see Shredder getting yelled at by Krang for losing his one connection to the Turnstone, and then of Krang lamenting the situation and getting further frustrated that he tunes in too late to catch the day’s Intergalactic Wrestling match (and thus we as readers see that he just missed learning of the turtles’ and Leatherhead’s involvement).

The art here is pretty good…not exactly my ideal, but it works quite well. I doubt I would have recognized the work as Lawson‘s as it lacks the visual style I’ve gotten accustomed to from his work since the TMNT vol. 4 Mirage run through to present. There’s a definite simplicity to the visuals of the issue–linework as well as coloring–that gives this the definite look and feel of something aimed at kids. That’s not to say it’s bad, just that it differs greatly from the original Mirage series and does not come off as overly detailed. I do like the turtles’ wresting costumes, and offhand they remind me a bit of the “superhero turtles” seen in later Mirage stuff.

The story is also rather simple and straightforward even while introducing a cosmic element to this version of the turtles. Stump and Sling remind me quite a bit of the X-Men’s Mojo, except not nearly so dark/villainous. Cudley’s an interesting figure…weird, yet not a mutant; just an alien…and a bit of a deux ex machina on the space/time travel thing.

The issue continues to add to the world of this take on the turtles, moving yet further away from the cartoon, Mirage comics, and forging its own continuity with its own take on existing characters while introducing characters unique to this series.

I enjoyed the issue, and while a couple details stick with me, I’d forgotten other particulars. I was also very interested to note copyright information in the indicia, differentiating Man Ray, Cryin’ Houn, Turnstone, Mary Bones, Stump, Sling, and Cudley as being creator-owned characters and not Mirage stock. That’s mostly a topic for its own post, but my noticing it here definitely puts that at the forefront of my mind and I’ll be looking for such details in future issues with other characters I recall.

TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures #9

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Full Post at TMNT Revisited
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #9

TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures #7

tmntadventures007

Full Post at TMNT Revisited
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #7

Tales of the TMNT #64 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: The Burning Man

The turtles race all over the city to deal with a number of threats, and ultimately, a demon-from-a-bottle released in a botched attempt to stop the Foot from stealing its container.

talesofthetmnt064Script: Tristan Jones
Pencils: Jim Lawson
Inks: Steve Lavigne
Letters: Dan Berger
Cover: Jim Lawson & Steve Lavigne
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Editor in Chief: Peter Laird
Managing Editor: Dan Berger
Design: Eric Talbot
Published by: Mirage Publishing

Michelangelo narrates this issue, as we find out that he and his brothers wound up fighting some sort of demon. This demon was released after Leonardo accidentally broke an urn the Foot was trying to steal. We go from the turtles’ lair as Leo chews Mikey out for stuff going wrong; then see Mikey’s side to things. With the urn broken and the demon having disappeared, there wasn’t much for the turtles to do, so they went about usual business; these distractions led to Mikey being the one to come across the demon again first, and thus Mikey confronts it alone. The others are brought into things in their own way, as the motivation of the demon is determined and attended to. While Mikey won’t take the blame for everything that went down, we do find out at the end of the issue the one thing that he WILL take responsibility for.

Visually, this is the version of the turtles I tend to enjoy most, and the visual style that I’ve come to primarily associate with them over the past 7-8 years or so. It is a bit stylistic, and detail seems to vary a bit, as dictated by the story and what we’re to focus on as the story progresses.

The story itself is quite good, and I really enjoyed a lot of the verbal and visual cues provided by having the story from Mikey’s point of view. I could almost hear the voice of the 2003 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series Mikey recounting these events, and that just made it all the more fun.

Jones has written some of my favorite issues of Tales, and I find it a real shame that this will be his last issue, given the change of ownership of the TMNT property and uncertainty of where things go from here.

This is not a dense book…the story is a nice little done-in-one, mainly focused on Mikey but still involving the other turtles such that it is by no means a solo issue. If you can get the issue, it’s very much worthwhile.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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