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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #73 [Review]

tmnt_idw_0073The Trial of Krang, Part One

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams
Cover: Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: August 2017
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s been awhile since I reviewed an issue of this series. [ Note: yeah, the last issue I reviewed was #44, back in 2015! ] And a lot has happened over these last 30 issues or so, including the apparent death of Shredder, and the book feeling a lot like a new volume of a series since then. But perhaps most significant for this issue–this is the first TMNT comic series to hit #73! The second volume of Tales of the TMNT ended at #70 back in 2010 (though apparently there was a foreign-published ~100-copies issue put out as a #71, but that’s for another post entirely), and the Archie-published TMNT Adventures ended at #72 back in 1995. The original volume of TMNT, that started everything, ended at #62 back in 1993.

Over the past six years, 73 issues of this title, numerous mini-series, several specials, and a year of a monthly companion title, we’ve had the development of probably the richest, deepest TMNT continuity to date, with this series’ creators drawing in elements from pretty much every previous iteration of the series–be that comics, cartoon, movie, and even the (as of August 2017) current animated series.

The cover itself is a bit of a celebratory thing: we see the turtles standing triumphantly, crowds of (alien) people cheering them from all around, as they stand open in the city. Granted, this is an alien city, and not Earth, but hey…it works. And on the "meta" level, the celebration is also appropriate AS celebrating this being the longest-running TMNT comic ever (at least numerically), with no signs of slowing down.

Opening the issue, we see Krang–who outside of the FCBD 2017 issue, I don’t think we’ve seen in a couple years at least–firming stuff up with an assassin, as he sits in a guarded cell awaiting his trial. Neutrinos arrive on Earth to get the turtles and Fugitoid back to Smada city, where they’re surprised to come face to face with Leatherhead! After some initial testiness, the situation is explained as to why he’s there and that they’re all on the same side…for now. The Neutrino Royal Family celebrates the turtles as heroes of the Krang War in a huge gathering that they weren’t expecting. Later, they get a smaller, more private time with them, where they learn of other problems approaching…like Maligna and her Malignoids, seeking to fill the power vacuum left without General Krang. The group is joined by Counselor Apap, who reveals how important it is for the turtles and Professor Honeycutt (the Fugitoid) to retrieve the key witnesses…without them, they don’t have nearly what’s needed to keep Krang locked away! However, Krang’s assassin Hakk-r strikes, and Apap is killed. After a skirmish with the assassin (who escapes), it becomes the turtles’ mission to seek out the witnesses, as Honeycutt must remain behind…he’s suddenly become one of the most valuable players in things himself, with Apap gone…so the turtles head off to collect the witnesses.

This issue is really, truly, things Done Right, to me! If you’d told me several years ago I’d like the Neutrinos in a modern context, I’d’ve been quite skeptical. As they are here, in this series…I quite enjoy them! I "hear" echoes of the classic cartoon iterations of the characters, but really dig this series’ reinterpretation and presentation of them…and their society. I also really like that this Krang is a much deeper character with a fleshed-out background (compared to the cartoon, anyway!) and seems much more capable, and highly dangerous…far more of a threat than "just" some recurring, bumbling villain.

Visually, while this issue’s art is by Cory Smith rather than Mateus Santolouco, it’s similar enough to avoid being jarring, and is really some beautiful stuff! Over the years, I’ve gotten very used to radically differing visual interpretations of the turtles, so that in itself rarely bothers me. Having the art so similar is a real treat, and to be singularly attractive in itself is even better!

The issue’s story is also quite a treat to me…I really like that we’re (finally!) getting back to more "familiar" territory, while pushing the overall narrative FORWARD. I often complain about repetition and titles not "letting _____ go" and such…but the way Shredder was developed, and Krang, I very much like stories with them in this iteration of the TMNT. Having had what in some ways has felt very "generic" villains/antagonists for a couple years, it’s really great to have this picking bac up on stuff that I’ve missed.

Having recently been excited at the introduction of more classic Mutanimals characters (Jagwar and Dreadmon) being introduced (reinterpreted) into current IDW continuity, I’m also very excited at the prospect of what seems to be on the immediate horizon, with a couple of very recognizable "cameos" in this issue (that I presume will be touched on at length in the TMNT: Dimension X mini-series) and an outright mention of another "classic" villain that I believe may come into play next issue, given the "Next issue" box at the end of this issue.

While this may not be an ideal "jumping on" point for someone unfamiliar with the characters, it’s definitely a great point to come back if you haven’t cared much for stuff the last couple years (since #50, for example). It’s also not a horrible point to jump in, though, even if you haven’t followed this title since its inception back in 2011 or such. There’s a lot of context, and if you don’t mind stories where you jump in and "figure things out" as you go, it’ll probably be fairly enjoyable.

And, as said earlier…this is the highest-numbered TMNT issue ever, so even symbolically, this series has now surpassed every previous run and can truly come into its own, pushing the TMNT property forward with a pedigree more than equal to everything else!

tmnt_idw_0073_blogtrailer

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #25

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures025Raw Power

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

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

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

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

Dragon Rage

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #24

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures024Gimme Danger!

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

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

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

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

It Started in Chinatown

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #23

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures023Search and Destroy

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #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.

Blast From the (TMNT) Past: Krang’s Android Body

While I included in a post back in September 2014 about Krang and the Kraang, I didn’t focus much on Krang’s Android Body there in any singular fashion, and what I was able to focus on was the toy itself.

Little did I realize that a couple years later, I would come across the original box it came in while cleaning out the attic at my parents’ house!

krang_android_body_01

Unfortunately, the pink brain-part–Krang himself, the character, is a “new” 2014 edition, part of the Classic Collection series of re-issued TMNT figures. But he still fits, still “completes” the otherwise genuinely-vintage piece!

krang_android_body_02

This is one of the few “accessories” or “vehicles” that I felt was truly worthwhile and fitting…and given what I recall of my obsession with the figures themselves (to the exclusion of vehicles/etc), that’s definitely saying something. And particularly with the new live-action/CGI film about to hit, it’s kinda fitting to find this “original” given how much “more” recognizable this piece becomes.

krang_android_body_03

Here’s the front of the box…”typical” from the line, and its time, with exaggerated art, ridiculous interpretations of the turtles, and just a small image of the actual product (since this was not a window-box). While this body was an “accessory” piece, it did have the “bonus” of the pink brain part of the figure (minus the walking contraption of the “standard figure” release) to make for a fully complete toy in and of itself.

krang_android_body_11

Not much new from the top you don’t get from the front, but it certainly helped cover the bases, making sure that whatever part of the box you looked at, you certainly know what it is!

krang_android_body_04

Same for the side–and they certainly don’t want you to miss that it included Krang himself, rather than you having to purchase the body and then go buy a separate additional figure just to play with it.

krang_android_body_05

Given this “figure”‘s size, the back sticks with that motif rather than showing off a bunch of other smaller figures (or even vehicles). More on that below…

krang_android_body_08

A closer look at the back, and the amazing alliteration that totally fits my present-day sensibility and is something I appreciate far more at present than I ever did as a kid!

krang_android_body_09

Interesting copy-text to “sell” one on the piece…

krang_android_body_07

And it points out various “features” of the thing, only about half of which I found important or relevant at the time back when I first got this, and the sentiments hold true in 2016.

krang_android_body_06

I’d mostly forgotten about them, but along with the “regular” figures and vehicles, Playmates had at one point had a line of $20 figures that stood about a foot tall–these oversized giant editions of the basic figures. $20 for one figure?!? What ridiculous nonsense! (Nowadays with $14 3.75″ figures, these would probably be $60+ apiece!)

krang_android_body_10

Then there were those Pizza Point things you could clip and save. I don’t think I ever learned what/where/how one could “redeem” them, or if I did, I don’t recall deeming anything “worthwhile” enough to be bothered to do anything about it. So hey, I still have at least 4 of the points available to me. Anything good still available?

krang_android_body_12

The box even has the remnants of the original price sticker, and confirming that I got this from Hills (and not Children’s Palace or Toys R Us or Kmart) (This was pre-Walmart/pre-Target!) (At least for me)

What an expensive thing then, and what a bargain that price would be, now, for such a figure/accessory of this significance and such.

And what novelty to find this original box after all these years, something that it never would’ve occurred to me that I’d saved for any reason! Truly a blast from the past, and a weird sort of “link” to the past, a tangible piece of ephemera in a world of stark contrasts these days–you either find something “mint in box” for HUNDREDS of dollars, or something “loose” for mixed pricing. And here I have originals of the opened box and the loose figure(s).

TMNT2 (2016) Toys – Kraang

Of all the “new” TMNT toys for the new 2016 sequel, the only one I really had any interest in was Kraang.

ninja_turtles2_kraang_front

Finding the figure recently, tossed it in my cart, and let it spike my groceries cost up a bit. Can’t say I’m all that thrilled with the figure in and of itself…but I like that it has a sort of updated look/feel to the ’80s cartoon version for the body, while the “brain” looks more current cartoony. I haven’t any idea if the film character is a singular entity or if this represents simply one of a bunch of generic entities…but with the inclusion of Bebop and Rocksteady I’m “assuming” singular.

ninja_turtles2_kraang_back

The back of the card shows other figures to look for. I’m really not interested in any of them offhand, except perhaps Casey Jones (I have the ’80s, 2003, and 2012 cartoon versions…add a 4th incarnation?) and maybe Bebop and Rocksteady…that might wait til the film’s actually out.

Five villains to six unique heroes…that 5:6 is not a bad ratio to have for a line of figures for a movie! Though I might be slightly more interested in trying to track down a set if three of the four turtles didn’t right here on this layout have variants (1. Where’s Donatello’s? 2. I like it better when there’s simply a different “version” of the four turtles in a given wave uniquely displayed on the card-backs).

It also helped a great deal that Target seemed to realize that jacking their prices up to basically $10 to Walmart and Toys R Us‘ $9 wasn’t doing so well, and so the price is back “down” (at least where I’ve seen lately).

As variants go on the TMNT toys…I’d really dig a line of these “standard” figures based on the IDW comics, in the Mateus Santolouco style!

Mega Bloks Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles

I went into Toys R Us looking for one thing only: an Extreme Heroclix Superman figure I’ve seen several times and had finally decided to purchase (particularly given its price in the store compared to prices I was seeing the exact same thing listed for  online–via Amazon and eBay and such!)

I happened across a display of TMNT stuff I hadn’t known existed. I didn’t quite recognize stuff, but quickly realized they were Mega Bloks TMNT toys. That alone had my attention, then–so much for the TMNT Lego stuff.

krangs_rampage_unopened_front

Along with the Krang’s Rampage, there were also mini-sets for the four individual turtles, some sort of Turtle-Van set with Shredder and Raph, as well as "trooper" packs with Bebop and several Foot ‘bots or Rocksteady and several Foot ‘bots.

There were also several sets for the "current" TMNT that didn’t really have my interest…except for "blind pack" minis. What the heck? For $2.99 (compared to Lego‘s $3.99 minifig blind packs) I grabbed a couple, figuring they felt like different shapes–so not duplicates–and since I didn’t have any, they’d be "new" to me.

Ultimately I decided I did not have nearly as much interest in those as I did the "classic" TMNT stuff…and though it was certainly more than I’d intended to spend for the evening, I bought Krang’s Rampage.

krangs_rampage_back

I cared nothing for the pizza cart or News 6 billboard "accessories." I simply wanted the turtles, and Krang with android body.

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I had a visitor while I was first examining the contents of the box. Once Ziggy determined the rustling bags were not treats, he ignored me…but didn’t feel like leaving "his" space.

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Eventually I had to set the box between my "work area" and the kitty…he was quite curious, and after he tried to eat a minifig the night before, I wasn’t going to let him walk through the brickspace. He left and returned several times while I assembled.

fully_assembled

A couple hours after I started, the project was complete, and I had two of the four turtles facing off with Krang in his enlarged android body…and I’m quite happy with the result overall.

I did notice as I worked that these bricks feel like a lighter (cheaper) version of Lego, but I expected that–this set WAS cheaper in purchase-price than a Lego equivalent. A lot of pieces seemed pretty custom to this set (as opposed to repurposed pieces creatively integrated for a Lego set.

The mini figures–the two turltes–feel a lot more flimsy than Lego minifigs…but are far more poseable! The detail and articulation make them truly seem like miniature action figures rather than turtle-themed accessories on a standard blocky minifig structure. The weapons also seem much more "in scale" to the figures than the Lego counterparts had.

But all in all, I’m quite happy with the set, and glad for my purchase.

The miniature action figures leave me very interested in acquiring others–especially the Bebop and Rocksteady packs, and make me think it would be simply amazing if they would do a simple trooper pack with a dozen or so Foot ‘bots…making it far more possible in this scale to have the turtles face a small army of the robots than in any scale prior.

And surprisingly enough to me–in searching online for more details of these sets and what might be expected beyond what I saw, in the near future–I learned that "street date" on these was 1/1/2016.

I was in the store seeing these and buying the set I did…1/1/2016.

Though "purist" Lego enthusiasts will almost certainly find these to by physically inferior, on the "fun factor" and "enjoyment," as well as variety (the Lego sets were expensive and only focused on the "current" TMNT and then the 2014 film…Mega Bloks has sets for both the ’80s TMNT as well as the "current" series.

Mega Bloks also has the individual turtle packs–I believe they were $7.99 or so–which make it quite feasible for one to obtain all four of the turtles without having to invest in a $12.99 set and two or more $25-$60+ sets just to get the turtles.

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Above: a closer view of the image from the box showing Bebop, ROcksteady, Foot, and the individual turtle mini-sets.

Below: a differently-lighted photo of the box for Krang’s Rampage after the contents were removed.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #44 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw044Attack on Technodrome (part four)

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Cover: Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s been a few months since I’ve covered an issue of this title–I think it was the end of the previous arc. Here we are at the end of the next arc–already! Though we’ve had Krang since the earliest issues, this arc and issue is where the “long arc” of stuff pays off.

The Leo, Raph, and Mikey tangle with some of Baxter’s flyborgs, before the scientist recalls them to make his escape…which leaves them free to get the mousers away from the Fugitoid…though this does not go over well with Krang. Meanwhile, Bebop and Rocksteady have been ordered to kill Donatello, and take great pleasure taking on the turtle and Metalhead. While the other turtles face Krang directly, Splinter is aided against Karai by Alopex and Nobody. Back on Burnow Island, Shredder’s mutants fail to help him, and escape…not realizing Baxter has designs on an alliance with their (probably now former) master. The turtles and Fugitoid end Krang’s plans for the Earth though they’re unable to prevent the island from being terraformed. The legacy of their battle is a space on Earth that can be a haven to surviving Utroms. While Honeycutt returns to Dimension X to see Krang answers for his crimes…the turtles return home to find that everyone was too late to save their brother.

Even long as the above summary is…it hardly does justice to the feeling I had reading this issue. I was expecting something big–I may have seen something hinting at a major event, or might’ve just felt like there’d “have to” be something big given all the “buildup” to the Technodrome activating and that it’d be a letdown if “all” that happened was that the turtles defeated Krang with no other lasting repercussions.

The art and writing together made for quite a scene between Bebop and Rocksteady vs. Donatello…and I honestly felt a bit sick reading it, at seeing Donnie take such an outright beating from the two. Gone are the overblown words and threats and no-one-actually-gets-hurt notion of the turtles facing the supposedly-dangerous lunkheads as we got throughout the ’80s/’90s animated series. Here, as I turned the pages I had a mental flash to Batman: A Death in the Family…exacerbated by the panel of Rocksteady’s hammer-swing quite looking like a crowbar. And though we don’t get detail, we get enough–the crack and crunch on the shell, and my realizion that I’d just been contemplating before that I’d never really read any TMNT story with any of the turtles truly having their shell damaged. They’ll be shown with scratches or cuts and such but the shell is generally shown deflecting a sword blade or some other object…but they’re not superhuman or invulnerable.

And we’re shown just enough to SEE that yeah…this is bad. VERY bad. Of course, that itself is made worse by the two talking over what they’d just done, remarking on the damage and what it looks like…definitely solidifying that it wasn’t just some “visual sound effect” and not just some visual angle.

And the end of the issue certainly suggests that the turtle family has been truly reduced by one…and yet no one comes out and says the “d-word” here, and I’m reminded of a key scene in the original Eastman/Laird series when Leo’d been horribly beaten by the foot and his near-lifeless body thrown through a window to the floor amidst the rest of the turtles. While mentally processing as I read the rest of the issue, I’d also thought immediately of the Image TMNT series, in which Donatello wound up a cyborg after a horrific accident all but killed him…the specifics remain a blind spot in my TMNT knowledge but given how much this series has drawn from prior incarnations of the property, I certainly have some expectation of where things can go from here…it’ll be the details and pace that are gonna hold my attention in a big way.

The immediacy of the issue–it’s the current issue as of this writing; it just came out this week; there’ve been no other new TMNT issues SINCE–certainly lends to a sense of importance by itself. Yet, I do truly think that in the long run, this may well be a key, defining issue in the series as well as moment for all the characters…something that’ll be referenced and relevant and to some degree inform the heart of the characters and the series for a good long time.

There’s not much “context” given, this is the fourth chapter of a four-part story, so it’s not particularly a jumping-on point. I certainly recommend the series, whether you backtrack to #41 and the start of this arc or pick up the entire series in collected format. Though I hurt for the characters, look forward to seeing how they get through, this remains one of my favorite comics being published currently by any company, and just about the longest I’ve kept up with any single series consistently on a monthly basis for such an extended time since the late-1990s.

While not the foundation/building blocks of the property, in terms of story quality, development, longevity, consistency, and quality…this is probably my favorite TMNT series, period…and after this issue I am all the more eager to see what comes, and even at the $3.99 price point, would likely enjoy weekly issues as long as the quality was maintained.

[ “The Scene” behind the cut. ]


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Krang, Utroms, and the Kraang

krang_utroms_kraang_thumbKrang is one element of the classic cartoon TMNT that in retrospect I’m not all that fond of. The toy, on the other hand, brings back some “fun memories.” “Nostalgia” might be a better word…I don’t know.

I recently posted about finding Classic Collection Krang at Toys R Us, and having that figure now adds a character to a small grouping that I own, that have appeared in some form across all three “main” TMNT toy lines (1980s, 2003, 2012).

While the pink brain itself has been missing from my collection for I-don’t-know-HOW-many-years, the Krang’s Android Body has been around my apartment for awhile…a cool (if incomplete) oversized “figure.”

krang_android_body_empty

The android body is about 2 1/2 times as tall as a basic Turtle, though the angle of my photo makes it look a bit bigger.

Krang’s walking contraption is–at top of the bubble–about as tall or only slightly shorter than one of the turtles.

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Of course, though it was the basis of the “main” figure itself for awhile, the bubble contraption I believe only appeared in the first handful of episodes of the cartoon before the android body was introduced.

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Though the idea of this creature essentially being a “brain in the stomach” was odd to me at first, back in the day. It wasn’t TOO long, though, before I discovered via the comics that Krang was based on an entire race of aliens from the comics…

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…and part of what I so greatly enjoyed about the 2003 animated series was its adherence to the core elements of the Mirage comics. Here are three Utroms with android bodies from the 2003 line. They came with the little hover-platforms, so can fit either into the android body or as they’ve been shown to get around on the hover platforms without the bodies.

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While Utroms were consolodated into the singular Krang character for the 1980s cartoon, they were introduced as generic villains in the 2012 series as a race called The Kraang…in OBVIOUS homage to the 1980s. These again are brains in the android bodies, though I haven’t bothered to pull enough to pop one out…they don’t come RIGHT out, and I don’t feel like tearing one if they’re really glued in there.

krang_utroms_kraang

So, as with the turtles themselves, I now have a full complement across all 3 “generations” of figures for a given character.

Of course, I’d love to find the “regular-size” figure that came out late in the 1980s run. Sadly I doubt I’d find one for a decent price…I’d be happy to find one “loose” for under $10. Still sounds a bit steep, recalling the turtle figures were once $3.49 apiece. But then, many modern figures are $10 anyway, and to get a vintage figure even without the card for that price isn’t horrible. I do remember seeing it once or twice, but had “outgrown” getting the turtle figures at that point (obviously I’ve grown back in).

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