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#NECA 1/4 Scale Raphael: Finally!

Right about a year ago, back in early February 2018, I had decided that I was going to "give in" and actually spend the money to get one of the NECA 1/4 scale TMNT figures based on the 1990 film.

Then the company I was working for decided that due to "lack of business" I was "expendable" and laid me off, so I put the big, singular purchasing on hold.

Reemployed for some time now, I decided to give it another shot, and managed to successfully order the Raphael figure, as my favorite of the turtles in that movie!

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The box is huge…I remembered these being large, having seen the Leonardo in a store in late 2017, and the Trenchcoat Raph at a convention last spring. But after so much time, I’d forgotten just how large it was…despite knowing the figure itself is quite a size!

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The sides of the box both show a closeup of Raph’s face as well as a full-body shot.

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The back shows several images of Raph, as well as a group shot of all four turtles, and a brief blurb about the figure.

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Here’s the figure out of its packaging. As I opened it, I caught myself thinking about how some figures anymore, I may hesitate to take out of the packaging; whereas this one, I opened the mailing box and basically kept right on going to get the figure itself out–no hesitation or thought of leaving it in the box for display or such! My intent for getting the figure was/is to have it "loose" and displayable!

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And here’s the figure from the back. I don’t know WHAT it is about it, but I absolutely love the detail in the shell! I’ve always dug the shells for the movie turtles, and at this size, the detail is incredible!

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Though the box and marketing suggests the figure as 16.5" he seems to be closer to the 17" mark. Some of that may be the angles–as you can do some amazing stuff with size and angles. But while the technical specification might be 16.5" I’m comfortable considering this a 17" figure!

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The figure arrived on Friday the 8th; and with virtually any given day of the year being some sort of made-up "holiday" or such, Saturday the 9th was some sort of "PIzza Day." We had some work being done on the house, and took advantage of a "Pizza Day" sale from Hungry Howie’s for everyone. I couldn’t resist taking a photo like this, as the figure was already standing on the table the pizza was on!

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And for immediate scale, here’s the Raphael in a temporary spot near my "regular figures" display shelves…you could put a figure on Krang’s Android Body‘s shoulders and it still would not be quite as tall!

While the size of this figure is getting a bit "normalized" to me after seeing it as I have now…initially getting and opening it really impressed me!

And speaking of being impressed…I’m really extremely impressed with the detail of this thing. Compared to other figures purportedly based on the film, this seems like something out of Last Action Hero like someone reached into a screen and pulled the actual character out, frozen in a fraction of a moment of time!

Against bare wall backgrounds or mailing boxes or shelves with other figures, this is obviously "just" a large figure. But the detailing/style is such that with a darker background, by itself and nothing particularly distinguishing in the background for its actual scale…one could really take this and create/recreate lifelike images to rival the original 1990 film!

In fact, nowadays, it seems to me that it’s hard to simply "google" the film and not have to guess at thumbnails–is it a promotional image from nearly 30 years ago, or a well-staged photo of one of these figures?

I honestly cannot even imagine a better figure, short of some sort of just-as-sturdy rubbery texture and a malleability to the material it’s built from! And the figure itself is heavy–the packaging was thin tagboard for the box, just enough plastic inside to hold the figure and accessories; but my shipping notice suggested the entire package was around 8 pounds!

I told myself that if I was just getting one, I was going to get Raphael. I’m very interested in the others, and there’s a Shredder coming later this year, I believe!

A lot of what I tend to buy–toys, comics, whatever–tend to be fairly "immediate-gratification" and "impulse" buys. A lot that I consider getting, if I don’t get it right away tends to go "out of sight, out of mind" overall. This one, though, has been at least in the back of my mind for over a year, and certainly one of my most-anticipated "frivolous" purchases ever. AND despite having that year-plus to build up expectations and such..I can honestly say that I REALLY like the figure and am NOT disappointed in my purchase nor the figure itself!

My only real reservation regarding the figure is stories I’ve read online about the figures (eventually) keeling over and doing damaging shelf-dives; and have confirmed for myself that once a decent bit of pressure is applied to pushe the figure forward, it will pretty easily tip. So I’m going to be looking for some sort of stand or such to hopefully shore up the figure’s long-term stability without sacrificing it’s amazing appearance.

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The Weekly Haul: Week of January 30, 2019

So after a few weeks of doubling up on what could easily be a weekly post, I’m getting to this prior to the following week’s new releases!

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This was a small-ish week of new comics. Detective Comics has a mere 2 more chapters for the current story arc, and then the big 1,000th issue. Action Comics begins a new arc, and this one "headlines" the cover in a way that I feel like I haven’t seen in too long! (Though perhaps I’m just neglecting to remember something from within a few weeks). And while I believe Heroes in Crisis was slated to be 7 issues and got expanded to 9…here I am at 5 issues in and not much has really happened, other than some characters killed off, only a couple of which seem to even have any real effect on anything outside of this title (Flash and Green Arrow due to Wally and Roy).

At "only" (and simultaneously "already at" #9, TMNT: Urban Legends puts us at about the 1/3 mark for this series.

I was only going to get the TMNT issue of the IDW 20/20 stuff, but picked up Jem on a whim, and the nostalgia of the Star Trek: The Next Generation logo here hit me such that I went ahead and grabbed that 20/20 issue. It proved a too-quick read but not horrible–written by Peter David, after all–and I REALLY dug the art!

Finally, missed out on Naomi #1 the previous week, but was able to snag a copy of it this week, to check out. While I’m loathe to add titles to what I’m buying in general, I’m beginning to wonder if I might actually enjoy this Wonder Comics imprint. I’m at least seriously considering giving the other #1s a shot. We’ll see what happens!

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Comic Shop News is a staple.

The week also saw the "physical" release of Reign of the Supermen, after it having a theatrical engagement and then a stupid "digital-only" "window" of release such that I honestly nearly forgot it was due out!

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NECA TMNT Baby Turtles

For over a year, I’ve been interested in the NECA figures based around the 1990 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film. I was about to "pull the trigger" on buying one last year when I was laid off outta nowhere, and so that was firmly put on hold.

Now, re-employed for some time, I turned my sights back toward the figures, loving their detail and accuracy to the film in a way that other "based on the 1990 film" figures never seemed to truly match.

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I decided to start with the TMNT Baby Turtle Accessory Set. Though they were really only in the film for a brief scene–probably not even a full minute–I liked the look of these figures, as well as the price. They’re a bit more expensive than 4 standard TMNT action figures, though they’re basically the same size. As "premium" figures go, that’s not a bad price…and all the more compared to the "full size" teenage turtles.

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The set comes with the four turtles, as well as a Domino’s pizza box, a bag of chips, several baby-turtle-sized slices of pizza…and apparently to make up for some deficiency in size/etc or to otherwise add some sort of appeal to the pack, a "bonus" hand for the full-size teenage Michelangelo from his show-off-duel with a Foot ninja in the film, spinning his weapon balanced on the tip of a finger.

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I love the detail of the pizza box–it’s a flimsy tagboard sorta thing, but looks like a real pizza box miniaturized down to the grease stains! The pizza slices are a rigid plastic, so a bit off-balanced if put in the box. But they’re decent for having the turtles hold.

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The bag of chips is another nice touch, another "snack" and piece to add scale to these turtles.

"The little ones were crawling into a strange, glowing ooze from a broken cannister nearby. I gathered them up in an old coffee can, and when I awoke the next morning, I received a shock–for they had doubled in size. I, too, was growing…particularly in intellect. And I was amazed at how intelligent they seemed, but nothing could have prepared me for what happened next: one of them spoke.

"Pizza! Pizza!"

"More words followed, and I began their training, teaching them all that I had learned from my master […] And soon, I gave them all names. Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello…and Raphael.

So next up for me is the full-size turtles and possibly the Shredder. At minimum, I definitely want to get Raphael and Leonardo, and Shredder. Of course, I’d love to get the entire set, but these things being expensive and going "out of production" (aka "out of print") and such could put a huge spanner in the works on that idea. For their steep, premium pricing, though…it’ll be a longer journey, as I may be willing to sink the money over time, but not in a large, lump sum, for multiple items in the line.

Along with these baby turtles, and the full size turtles, and a Raphael-in-trenchcoat, I believe there’s a Foot ninja, and coming sometime "soon" (or so I’d swear I’ve read) is Shredder.

Then there’s a reproduction of Casey’s facemask, as well as a replica of the ooze cannister.

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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of January 16 & 23, 2019

Looks like these Weekly Haul posts are becoming more of a biweekly thing than weekly, despite best of intentions otherwise. And broken record as I feel on saying that.

Here are the previous couple of weeks’ worth of new comics…with another new week now just a couple days away!


Week of January 16, 2019

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Detective Comics is really ramping up toward the 1,000th issue! I was amazed at how quickly the first two chapters of this story read, and this one itself seemed a pretty fast read. Loving the art, but the story makes it seem like it’s going to be so much better as a singular "graphic novel" in collected form.

Superman finally–about nine months in–gives us the story of the "missing" time and we now have a mid to late teens Superboy in Jon…which really is not my cup of tea. Perhaps it’ll be undone by the end of this current arc, but I doubt it…we’ll see where it goes, though!

Then we have Supergirl and the TMNT issue of IDW‘s series of 20/20 special issues celebrating the publisher’s 20th anniversary. This TMNT 20/20 jumps forward 20 years, and proved a too-quick read with too little space to really do any justice to the story…and there’s loads of potential here!

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The DC Walmart-exclusive 100-page giants seem to have thrown the 2-every-2-weeks schedule out the window, and are landing all-4-at-once again…right about the 4 week mark since the #6s! And it turns out that #7 is the final issue for both the Justice League of America and Teen Titans iterations…they’re being replaced with Wonder Woman and Titans respectively, starting with new #1s while adding Swamp Thing and Flash to the lineup (apparently Batman and Superman get to continue with their existing numbering.


Week of January 23, 2019

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The most recent week of new comics brings us a non-Black-Label issue with Batman and Constantine; I need to catch up on reading this title, and really look forward to reading this issue! I snagged the second issue of Geoff JohnsShazam! title, even though it’s several weeks late. I have yet to read the first issue, and as my usual trap seems to be…I get a subsequent issue so when/if I finally get to reading one issue, I’m not "stuck" having to "hunt down" another issue.

I lucked out and the local Target had the DC Primal Age exclusive issue. I had a rude surprise in thinking it was going to be like the Walmart issues at $5, but this one was $10! Still, that’s in line with DC‘s own non-Walmart such issues, so…c’est la vie. At least it’s DC and not Marvel

TMNT hits its 90th issue; and we get the third issue of GI Joe: A Real American Hero – Silent Option. And for the heckuvit, I opted to try the IDW 20/20 issue of Jem and the Holograms. It’s a one-shot, and given my own age, I figure it might be interesting to read about the characters 20 years older than "usual," as it puts them into my own real, current age range.

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Despite swearing off of the latest Uncanny X-Men iteration due to pricing, frequency, and event-orientation (with Age of X-Man and such) I couldn’t quite bring myself to pass up this Annual given the focus on–and return of–Cyclops. And I was firmly set on NO MORE DARK HORSE Aliens minis due to variants and the like…but when I recognized Tristan Jones‘ art on this variant…I gave in and got it, since it IS #1, so at least it’s not just another variant-on-any-old-issue-nothing-special. Maybe I’ll suck it up and buy the rest of the mini…especially or at least if he’s got variants on the whole thing.

I snagged this free Isola Prologue issue cuz hey…"free." And we have the weekly Comic Shop News, this one focusing on Age of X-Man: Alpha…something playing on nostalgia (1995’s X-Men: Alpha). If Marvel does some sort of omnibus for the event, has a single-volume of Uncanny X-Men 1-10 and such and I can get then for a decent price…I might snag ’em. Otherwise I’ll wait for conventions later in the year and see if the singles can be had for half price for standard covers…if reviews and word of mouth bear ’em out as worthwhile.

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I’m not actually sure anymore what IDW‘s schedule is for print and digital releases as it almost seems like they’re releasing stuff early digitally with print coming the following week. And I’m not sure how I feel about Spawn Kills Everyone 2 being $3.99 an issue for a 4-issue mini-series…but I threw in with Spawn several years ago, and have decided to at least "stick it out" through the 300th issue. And that includes this mini, given the original special a year or two ago, whenever it was.


All in all, not a huge haul for new comics for the couple weeks…though some other stuff I bought more than made up for the comics spending. Buuuut I’ll get into those as the week progresses!

And as usual…here’s to hoping the new week of new comics is small-ish…

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Super-Blog Teamup – Redemption: The Shredder

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Welcome to my first Super-Blog Team Up of 2019! The SBTU is a group of content creators (bloggers/podcasters) who periodically come together to–as a whole–touch on a certain shared topic or theme…teaming up to look at a number of different ways that the topic or theme has been done in comics and such…as we all have our own blogs and angles at covering comics and pop culture.

For this outing, the theme is Redemption, or Coming Home.

As with my last entry in the SBTU, I’ve elected to go back to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Previously, I took an in-depth look at the Mighty Mutanimals…specifically, the Death of the Mighty Mutanimals in the pages of the then-Archie-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures (TMNTA) title in the early/mid 1990s.

This time out, I’m looking at probably the best-known TMNT villain–The Shredder.

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To start out and focus a bit, let’s look at a couple of quick definitions as found online.

Redemption: the act, process, or an instance of redeeming.

Since that’s somewhat defining something using itself, let’s go a little bit deeper…

Redeeming: serving to offset or compensate for a defect.

There we go–that’s more along the lines of my thought with the word, if I had to put it out there concretely. Redemption is taking something not-so-good, and making it better. Whether taking something I didn’t like and making it something I liked; taking some unlikeable character and making them likeable; turning a disinterest into an interest…there are a number of ways to take it.

In terms of the Shredder, my memory proved a bit faulty as I set out expecting to look at the Shredder going from an out and out villain to being–if not exactly an anti-hero, then at least more like a Magneto circa the original Age of Apocalypse. In this re-examination, though, I’ve realized that the Shredder still more than fits this idea of redemption…as the character started out JUST as "some villain" to me, grew to be an element I disliked (as the character felt over-used and over-exposed for being essentially a one-off or two-off villain in the original Mirage comics), and ultimately has become a character I’m interested in and find to be more complex and deep than just "Ha-ha-ha-ha! Tonight I dine on turtle soup!"

I’m not just observing the "fact of" there being different versions of the Shredder. The different versions have informed my interpretation of the character, the way I’ve seen or appreciated the character…and I’ve "been there for" many of their introductions and development across the years.

INTRODUCTIONS

1980s Cartoon Shredder

shredder_1987My first introduction to Shredder was via the 1980s TMNT cartoon series. You had "the turtles" and you had "Shredder." Shredder was behind the very origin of the turtles–he’d framed Hamato Yoshi as a would-be assassin, usurped the Foot Clan, was why Hamato Yoshi left Japan and wound up in New York, and so on. His machinations were what led to the turtles meeting April O’Neil, and everything that came out of that. For most of its run–and I’d say, for the part that most people know and remember, at the height of the series’ popularity–Shredder was THE villain. Where there were other antagonists, typically they were the result of something Shredder actively planned or accidentally unleashed and subsequently took advantage of. I recall numerous "plan of the episode" plots by Shredder, seeking to "destroy" the turtles, or "take over" New York, or gain "revenge" on Splinter. The series itself was largely composed of done-in-one episodes or short, contained stories. There was a little bit of "build" and some instances of "continuity" or "recurring" characters. Shredder gets a magic sword. Shredder unleashes pizza-monsters. Shredder gets knocked on the head and thinks he’s Michelangelo. Shredder gets a gravity device. Shredder this, Shredder that…

I recall not thinking much of this "as a kid." At the time, it just WAS. That was what the show was. Shredder’s the bad guy, and the turtles stop him. Sometimes he works with Krang, sometimes he and Krang are at odds, often their being at odds affords the turtles their means of victory. Especially in retrospect, it seemed overly simple, and fairly off-putting that across however many seasons, Shredder just went from plan to plan to plan and was defeated each and every time by the turtles, but always got away. He’s incapable of defeating the turtles and virtually defines insanity with trying variations of stuff again and again and again. While there were occasional "moments"–and I think specifically of "Shredder’s Mother" from an episode or two, or Shredder "creating" the "Punk Frogs" in an attempt to duplicate what he saw Splinter having with the Turtles–that allowed a glimpse of the potential for something deeper, more in-depth to explore with characterization…it just didn’t happen in this series. That alone could be a topic for a huge post or series of posts, and I’ll leave off at that.


1990 Film Shredder

shredder_1990I was already familiar with Shredder–obviously–from the cartoon series. So it just made perfect sense that he would be the villain of the movie. The film was live-action, with costumes for the turtles and various animatronic/effects to bring them to life. The film was a lot darker and seemingly more violent than the cartoon…if only for the fact of seeing "live" turtles interacting with actual humans, the violence being "actual" violence rather than just animated "cartoon violence" and all that. This Shredder, like the cartoon version, was basically a villain for the sake of being a villain. He had a history in the sense of having a past with Hamato Yoshi. But other than "just" being some jealous guy who couldn’t get the girl and so killed her and the guy she chose…he was just some figure to blindly seek the destruction of the turtles. There wasn’t much depth explored in his running the Foot and masterminding their New York crime spree. There was plenty of depth SUGGESTED, but for a relatively short "kids’ film," it wasn’t explored in any great degree in terms of him as an individual…nor was there room for such exploration in the time allotted.

When the character "returned" for the second film in 1991, it was with even less depth…no longer was he interested in this Foot Clan…he just wanted the turtles destroyed. We got Tokka and Rahzar out of this (presumably due to issues with bringing Bebop and Rocksteady to live action) with Shredder determining that he needed his own mutants to take on the turtles. Many people probably remember the "Super Shredder" from the end of the film (and this was brought back conceptually late in the 2012 series with its Tales of the TMNT season). While cool in concept, a mutagen-enhanced Super Shredder could have posed a huge threat, but wound up not even fighting the turtles–it just blindly destroyed support beams and brought a dock down on itself. I imagine this was partly a matter of budget and the extent of effects as well as time–who’d want a 2 1/2 hour film aimed at kids, after all? (ha, ha).

Again…as a kid, I didn’t think much of this, and it is much more in thinking back to it that I’ve noted various deficiencies to the character, how he was presented, and all that. I still to this day in 2019 consider TMNT (1990) one of my favorite films and will watch it time and again, year after year, sometimes more than once in any given year. But that doesn’t change just how shallow Shredder feels (to me) as depicted in this live action film universe.


Mirage Comics Shredder

shredder_mirageSomewhere around this time–1989-1991–I got ahold of several graphic novels from "the library" (utilizing the local library, but I believe via their inter-library loan system). These were colorized versions of the original TMNT comics published by First. Initially I only knew that these were a version of the turtles; but quickly realized these were essentially the actual, original comics–just colored–that introduced the characters I’d come to know from the cartoon series. They were a lot more violent–and the turtles in particular actually killed. The Foot (like in the movie, though it was the movie that was based on these comics) were human and thus could be killed (they were not the generic "robots" that the cartoon had). In looking back, I believe the first of these I read was actually the fourth, where Leonardo was first badly beaten by the Foot and then the rest of the turtles and April dealt with the Shredder being "back." This definitely stood out as the story was where large parts of the film got their inspiration…though in the film it was Raphael that was badly beaten by the Foot rather than Leonardo.

In these graphic novels, we had a Shredder who was definitely human, and in some images rather scrawny; hardly the well-muscled buffoon of the cartoon or the fancily-garbed film character. He was dangerous, meant to kill Splinter and the turtles, had killed Yoshi and Tang Shen, had Leo badly beaten, destroyed April’s home, and drove the turtles from New York. (It was some time later that I eventually learned of and got to read the Return to New York story where we found out exactly HOW Shredder had returned, and was finally finished off for good by Leonardo).

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One of the most memorable parts of that graphic novel was a multi-page foldout showing Shredder and a bunch of Foot waiting in ambush! And this comics version of Shredder–while not overly-well-developed–was definitely quite dangerous, perhaps moreso for not being in every single issue/chapter.

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Archie Comics Shredder

tmnta01_cover_shredder_vs_turtlesMeanwhile, there was the Archie-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures comics. The first few issues–a 3-issue mini-series and the first 4 issues of the ongoing–directly adapted the first season and the first couple or so episodes of the second season of the cartoon. As the comic series diverged greatly from the cartoon into its own continuity, we saw a shift away from Shredder as the core/primary antagonist. He was still a major antagonist but not the primary/sole antagonist. After being defeated and jailed in TMNTA #13 he was out of the picture until TMNTA #21 and then hung around for a few issues’ stories before being "saved" by the Turtles in TMNTA #25. That story had seen Shredder violated by Krang–who had himself attached to Shredder to control his body; and certainly destroyed any likelihood of the pair "working together" again (to say nothing of Krang being left–"re-banished"–to a toxic waste dump-world basically being the last I recall offhand of Krang in that series, period). Having been saved by the turtles, Shredder was now in their debt–he owed them.

shredder_tmnta36The next time Shredder appeared was almost a year later in TMNTA #36 working with a new villain–Verminator-X. Here he and the new villain captured Splinter and were about to make off through a time-portal when Leonardo reminded Shredder that they’d saved his life and he owed them. Honoring this debt, he released Splinter back to them, declaring the score even and that the next time they crossed paths there’d be "no compromise." I don’t recall offhand if or where we ever saw this Shredder again after that, as the series had more than moved past his being a required antagonist. Perhaps that is why I’d thought I remembered a more proactive "honor" to Shredder’s behavior prior to rereading TMNTA #36.

From Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #25:

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And from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #36:shredder_owes_turtles_03

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Mid-Late ’90s Shredder

shredder_imageWhen the original Mirage TMNT series "finally" made it to 50 issues–some 8 years after #1–original creators Eastman and Laird launched their largest singular story arc in City at War, running from that 50th issue to #62. Among other things, this story introduced us to Karai, a new element in the legacy of Shredder and the Foot. In that story she at one point disguises herself as the Shredder, and eventually more or less declares the Foot to be at peace with the turtles–each group will leave one another alone. That Shredder’s influence was still felt and had Foot acting based on what he’d set in motion showed how deeply Shredder was a part of them…and how significant it’d then be for the Foot to not be seeking the turtles’ destruction.

I believe Shredder may also have been slightly used in the live-action Next Mutation series…but that continues to remain a near-complete blind spot for me in TMNT history.


2003 Cartoon Shredder

shredder_2003With a new animated series that premiered in early 2003, the TMNT were back–though this series was much more a serialized story than the one-off episodic nature of the original. This allowed it to follow comics elements a bit more, as well as to have deeper, ongoing development of characters. I recall it beings several episodes in before we met the Shredder at all, and still a few more before the turtles realized he was a threat, and several more until he really became a definitive villain figure for the series.

After a lot of development, much of which was tied to the original comics…it was eventually revealed that this Shredder wasn’t even human at all! He was actually an Utrom, one of the aliens introduced over the course of the series.

shredder_chrellTo me at the time, this was an excellent twist! Krang had been based on the Utroms, and in the ’80s cartoon was closely tied to Shredder. And in the Archie comics, Krang had once attached himself to Shredder, AS Shredder. And so here, we had an Utrom who actually was the Shredder. It also allowed for a longevity across time that would not have made sense for a single human, but played well into stuff set up throughout the 2003 series.

Ch’rell as Shredder was also involved in the 2009 animated film TMNT Forever and proved to be the most dangerous of the various Shredders to that point. This animated film essentially capped off the entirety of the TMNT to its point, ending 25 years’ development.


With the TMNT property sold to Viacom/Nickelodeon, it had a fresh start after 2009. Firstly in the 2011 debut of a new ongoing comics series from IDW, secondly in a new animated series that premiered in 2012, and then in a new iteration of live-action films in 2014 and 2016.


2012 Cartoon Shredder

shredder_2012With the 2012 TMNT animated series we had yet another Shredder. This one seemed relatively similar to previous versions, with elements of the backstory much the same–animosity with Hamato Yoshi, involvement in the turtles coming to be, and so on. But there was something deeper here, as this Shredder not only caused the death of Hamato Yoshi’s wife, but also apparently that of their daughter! However, it was then revealed that he had a daughter of his own–Karai. Yet this turned out to be only part of the story…as Karai was revealed to actually be Yoshi’s daughter–she had not been killed, but was kidnapped by Shredder and raised AS his own daughter.

While in some ways rather cliche and such, it certainly gives a bit more depth and potential to be explored–having "Shredder’s daughter" actually be the daughter of Splinter, and being thus torn between the two; deeply influenced by both.

I still have a number of blind spots even to this animated series, but recall Shredder’s absolute hatred of Yoshi–Splinter–driving him to attack and kill Splinter, even at the cost of the very Earth itself when the alien Triceratons invaded and everyone had to work together to save the Earth. I believe time travel undid that, but that he then still wound up killing Splinter later after being mutated into a Super Shredder (with a look and name based on the 1991 film version of the character).

While there’s some development and difference from previous versions–which is good–there’s something to this version of Shredder that just seems a bit uninteresting to me, being so driven by his hatred of Splinter and the turtles, as well as the 2012 series’ overt (and to me, over-) reverence of the 1980s cartoon while seemingly ignoring the 2003 series.


2014 Films Shredder

shredder_2014The newer film Shredder from the 2014 and 2016 films seems extremely flat and uninteresting to me. The only details that really stood out and that I remember are the way the armor was so over the top and ridiculous, and came off a lot like the "Silver Samurai" character from 2013’s The Wolverine film.

I vaguely recall the character essentially only having a cameo in the 2016 film. That I really don’t recall more detail about the character from either film–despite their recency, that I actually saw them, and being the TMNT fan that I am–feels rather telling about the sheer shallowness of that incarnation of the character.


IDW Comics Shredder

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Where it feels like Shredder has really been done the best is the IDW comics…the current ongoing continuity of the TMNT. And really, in many characters’ cases, I feel like the IDW "version" has become THE definitive version. Both for being the "current" or "live" version at present as of this writing…but also because of incorporating different elements to make an amalgamized version that takes good ideas and brings them together into a single version. Typically my favorite example is Bebop and Rocksteady, who I had thoroughly disliked from the late 1990s until their introduction in the IDW TMNT series. They’re still the big, dumb buffoons…but they’re genuinely dangerous, and we’ve seen them cause true destruction…as well as nearly kill Donatello.

Over-simplifying, perhaps, but to quickly sum up the IDW series: Splinter and the turtles are mutated animals, but they’re also the reincarnated spirits of Hamato Yoshi and his four sons who lived several hundred years ago in Japan. Shredder is the same Oroku Saki that lived then as well, resurrected via mystical means involving a member of a group of god-like entities known as The Pantheon. So there’s this multi-lifetime/multiple worlds sorta struggle going on, where an animosity from hundreds of years ago is replayed in the present.

Shredder was not introduced immediately in this series, and his introduction involved some buildup, as well as skepticism from some of the characters. He and Splinter recognized each other pretty quickly as both realized how deep their ties went–Shredder and Splinter, Oroku Saki and Hamto Yoshi. Over the course of 40 additional issues, we learned a lot more about Shredder and the Foot Clan, and there was more involving reincarnation and the interference of the Pantheon member Kitsune.

This Shredder was dangerous and deadly, tried to corrupt and kill the Hamato family (as he had done in the past), was working with alien warlord Krang for a time, and generally was a major villain that made sense, had depth and mystery and development with room for a lot more development over time.

And then 40 issues ago (#90 is a January 2019 issue), in TMNT #50, things came to a head as he and Splinter fought…and ultimately he was defeated. Not just defeated, but killed–committing seppuku. We’d learned over the series that he and Splinter–Hamato Yoshi–had been clan brothers, and raised from childhood together. Essentially actual brothers as well as sharing a clan. This alone added so much depth…especially to me, being familiar with and able to draw extra context/"feeling" from the likes of Magic the Gathering: The Brothers’ War, about a different pair of brothers and how their rivalry wrecked a world.

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Now, just this month (again, January 2019) we have the beginning of a new "tie-in mini-series" TMNT: Shredder in Hell, that picks up with Shredder dealing with the spirit of the founder of the Foot and his own ties to said spirit; that everything he has done and been has been influenced; and even now, dead, he has a further journey to discover who he truly is.


THE REDEMPTION OF SHREDDER / COMING HOME

I’ve not been the biggest fan of the TMNT series since #50. Much as I’ll rail against Shredder being the end-all/be-all of TMNT villains, the way he was worked into the fabric of the IDW TMNT series, his death felt like this huge breaking point or split. Like #51 was a whole new #1 of a whole new Shredder-less series (and it absolutely WOULD have been a new #1 if TMNT was a Marvel property!). Though with Shredder’s death, Splinter wound up being leader of the Foot–a point that has forced further development of the turtles themselves as well as the relationship between them and their father…and that’s been interesting in itself, and helped to make Splinter more interesting, as more than just some wise old rat or father-figure who is always "right" and just kinda "there" for the turtles.

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We had a long introduction and building-up of IDW‘s Shredder across 50 issues. While not the SOLE antagonist, he was a major, ongoing antagonist with stuff going on in the background even if not serving as a focal point of a given story. In another life, he killed Hamato Yoshi’s sons in front of him, before killing Yoshi himself. In this life, he had a drastic effect on Leonardo, temporarily corrupting him and showing the turtle a whole different perspective on things, giving us a "dark" Leonardo…a chapter of life that has affected the turtle and still holds relevance (the City Fall story arc).

I’ve felt the absence of Shredder in the title and wondered where all it can and will go without the character…as well as where Splinter will be taken, story-wise, with the Foot; as we have never before had a TMNT series last this long with so much development in quite this way.

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Yet now with Shredder in Hell, we’re getting a new story of Oroku Saki, following events already built up, as they’re expanded a bit. And I have no idea where it’s going, but as we already have reincarnation and resurrection, it would be quite believable to see Shredder resurrected–albeit temporarily–despite seppuku. And as a 5-issue/5-month series, this will end about the time of TMNT #94…a mere 6 issues until the big 100th issue and whatever that holds.

I’m interested in this Shredder. I’m curious about where things go. I find the character engaging, and look forward to what’s going to happen. It seems plausible that even if he doesn’t physical return, there’s more yet to be "revealed" about the character that will impact the TMNT, and I believe this is the first time in nearly 35 years that there’s actually been a Shredder-focused series such as this, and I’m wishing it was weekly.

For what started out as a rather generic villain with little real development to a complex, deep character with much potential yet unexplored…IDW has certainly redeemed the character for me. Having followed the entirety of the IDW TMNT continuity since August 2011 when it started, having missed Shredder’s machinations and involvement, getting this new story with a lot of potential and all that…it is in its own way like "coming home." After a lot of time showing that there’s more than just Shredder to serve as antagonist, we’re back to Shredder having SOMETHING going on, and I’m enjoying that it’s not just some one-off thing or quickly-resolved "moment" but seems poised to be more significant.

Even if he doesn’t directly interact with the actual turtles in continuity, just the fact of getting a new story about him, now, and it having any tie at all to current continuity is a good thing, and has me all the more excited about the coming year of TMNT. This also has room to give Shredder a very solid, valid grounding as a favorite villain for me–as opposed to merely "sentimental value" or bias just for being one of the first villains I ever "met" as a kid first discovering fictional worlds and all that.


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Much as with my last SBTU post, this is easily one of my longest, wordiest posts…significantly beyond what I usually write. But it’s not every day that I get to participate in something like this…and with all the great work of fellow SBTU folks, I’m given the incentive to push myself to go beyond the casual usual.

Please check out my fellow bloggers and their posts, participating in this latest Super-Blog Team Up! Also look for the Twitter posts, and any other social media chatter with this project or their blogs! #SBTU #SuperBlogTeamUp


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The Weekly Haul: Weeks of December 19 & December 26, 2018

Final post of 2018!

Let’s catch up on the final two "Weekly Hauls" at least as comics go.

(I had planned to do a more introspective/retrospective post to end the year, but time’s gotten away from me…so perhaps I’ll do something early-ish in the NEW year. Time will certainly tell!)


December 19, 2018

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The Wednesday before Christmas was a pretty small week, at least for me. We had the newest issues of Batman and Nightwing. I’ve unfortunately fallen several issues behind on reading both titles again, which is definitely a bad sign for Nightwing. And after stuff with shifting creative teams apparently, conflicting intended arcs/direction and so on…where I’d viewed #50 and the post-shot-in-the-head stuff as a jumping-ON point…I’m leaning toward letting the title go and see where it "winds up" and backtracking via collected volumes "eventually" or some such. Batman itself should be a decent mini-binge-read early in the new year.

I also need to catch up on GI Joe: A Real American Hero reading again. With the multiple continuities/reboots/etc since the Marvel series, but this picking back up from the Marvel #155 and being the continuation of that, by the original creator Larry Hama…I truly view this as THE actual, real, true GI Joe series. The fact that IDW has now put out at least 103 sequentially-numbered issues speaks to a willingness to actually allow the longevity, as sell as respect for the legacy of this particular "run" and the creator and such…and actually gives me hope that TMNT might also be afforded a similar thing. Tie-in specials, mini-series, etc. give plenty of chance for #1s, and the Hasbro-verse rebooting/renumbering/whatever (I’ve not been following closely) would seem to do the same.

Then there’s the latest issues of TMNT and TMNT: Urban Legends. The TMNT issue is a "Christmas" issue, both set within ongoing continuity and yet a somewhat standalone issue, a Christmas special within the regular, actual numbering. I don’t remember if they did one last year, but I believe it was two years ago that they did…and I’m liking that. Urban Legends continues to be cool because it’s old/"classic" (-ish!) TMNT material that I’ve long been aware of but never had a chance to check out myself firsthand. Having it in color is cool, though I’d still like to someday track down the originals.


December 26, 2018

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December 26th being the day after Christmas, and being the Wednesday between Christmas and the start of the New Year, made for a very small week. I ended up just getting the Marvel Action: Avengers #1 and Die!Die!Die! #6. As with the previous issue of the latter, I need to pull my issues together; I should have checked to see what the first collecgted volume would contain, at least.

On the Avengers issue, I have the same logic as the Marvel Action: Spider-Man: I’ll support this IDW-published thing in part for being "only" $3.99 for a first issue, as well as NOT having a ton of variant covers! Also, it’s a bit of a curiosity.


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Ollie’s apparently got more shipments of cheap cast-offs from Marvel and DC (January 2018 started with a big haul, and expanded into February just before I was laid off. Now we’re ending the year with even more.

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Not quite the haul the year started with, but still quite the haul for the prices! In typical fashion–even away from Diamond, though–the Marvel stuff was "premium-priced" several dollars each over what similarly-sized DC books were!

A bit discouraging, though, as the prices are great, but this non-Comics-specialty-store chain gets stuff at prices that actual comic shops can’t really touch in most cases. And comic shops likely would NOT be putting permanent stickers on the volumes. Buuuut you get what you pay for!

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The Weekly Haul: Week of December 12, 2018

This past week was a rather large week, especially as single issues go. Maybe not huge, but large.

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Supergirl hits its 25th issue, which is an extra-sized $4.99 issue. Considering the series had apparently been cancelled for several months but came back with the existing numbering has been a huge selling point for me…and I’m willing to turn a “blind eye” to a $4.99 #25 much more than I am a #1! Though I’ve skipped several months’ worth of Detective Comics, I’ve opted to get back in for the run-up to #1,000. We’ll see what I think on that after I get around to actually reading #994, though!. While it seems most often that DC saves up its annuals for a 5th week, we get the Batman Annual this week, and it is another $4.99 issue. Again, I’m willing to accept that as this IS an annual, a special issue, and not intended as the premiere issue for a new series!

Then there’s the second issue of the Alien3 adaptation from William Gibson; I haven’t read the first issue yet, and actually need to figure out where it wound up. I probably “ought” to just wait for a collected volume at the rate I’m going, but then, I’m also preferring oversized stuff to skinny-as-heck paperbacks that fit in a comic bag and board that my regular comics fit in. I need to consolidate my Mr. and Mrs. X issues and read…but as a fan of Rogue and Gambit, and of Rogue and Gambit, it’s one Marvel series I’ll actually support. And at least conceptually, their being married is a welcome change, to me! And no particular interest for me in an Archie-published Archie special…buuuuuut it’s “only” $2.99 compared to virtually everything ELSE Archie publishes these days being $3.99 with umpteen variant covers. So I definitely wanted to support the $2.99 price point!

I’d jumped onto Spawn several years ago for the same reason: supporting something with a $2.99 price point! I suppose I ought to check on the price of the main title…and while I’d assumed this Spawn Kills Everyone was $2.99, it’s actually $3.99…and the first issue of a 4-issue mini-series, apparently. Still…I’m ok with it, given virtually everything else is $3.99, so not like it’s standing out, and “at least it’s not a Marvel.”

And as always, the TMNT stuff has long been my “exception” on stuff…including pricing. $7.99 for each of these “prestige format”/squarebound Macro-Series issues doesn’t really phase me. The more good, in-continuity quality TMNT content from IDW, the better!

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And speaking of TMNT…oh, here’s Chloe! Sarah photobombed last time…apaprently it’s Chloe’s turn! She did not care that I was taking photos for this blog…she saw me there, and insisted on some attention!

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So, speaking of TMNT…I don’t even know what to make of this Rise of the TMNT cover. And despite virtually everything else published by IDW having at LEAST one variant, I don’t believe these have had variants. I don’t really care about this series…but have to admit to the “habit” aspect, and knowing that it’s still actually TMNT content, and I’d kick myself if I had to “hunt down” “missing” issues later, so I’ll just get ’em as they come out and be done.

Finally…after however many weeks/months, we get the second issue of Batman: Damned. [ok, it’s been 12 weeks since #1 came out.] 12 weeks…3 months. I don’t remember the original schedule, but I think this is at least a MONTH late, maybe 6+ weeks. I got the first issue out of curiosityDC Black Label, a new Azzarello/Bermejo piece involving the Joker; the magazine-sized format…and if it wasn’t for all the stupid online “HYPE” I never would have even noticed a certain anatomical portrayal graphically present. Having the first issue and not hating it, I got the second issue; and as I believe it’s to be a 3-issue thing, I’m quite likely to also get the third/final issue as well.


Along with these issues, I also during the week snagged the Thanos Mighty Mugg figure from Hasbro. I’ve previously passed on all of these due to how small these are compared to the original line as well as not caring for the “gimmick” of the multiple faces. But hey…this is Thanos, so I went ahead and got it.

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And speaking of Thanos…thanks to an online sale from Hot Topic, I was able to get a significant discount on the Thanos-on-his-throne Pop vinyl…with FREE shipping by having it delivered to the local Hot Topic at the mall. Unexpectedly for me, Hot Topic also had a sale going of buy-1-get-1-50%-off for everything in the store includingPops. I happened across the Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers White Tigerzord, which I would have bought “anyway” just for what it IS. That the store had the Grindelwald-and-Thestral already marked down 50%, and eligible for the further discount, it made for quite the “steal.”

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Aaaaaand that’s about enough for this week.

Two more New Comic Days for 2018…that means this was the 50th. And the final will be “interesting,” falling as it does the day right after Christmas…I’m not even sure what (if anything) will really be out that week or if it’ll warrant its own trip to the comics shop(s).

Time will tell…and we’ll see what the week of the 19th holds!

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