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TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #2


tmntadventures002Return of the Shredder (part 2 of 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1


tmntadventures001Return of the Shredder (part 1 of 2)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


tmntadventuresmini003Heroes in a Half-Shell!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures (Mini-Series) #2


tmntadventuresmini002Heroes in a Half-Shell!

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

As noted in my post about the first issue, this mini is based on the first 5-episode mini-series/season of the animated TMNT cartoon. However, where that was 5 episodes, the comics adaptation is a mere 3 issues…leading to a couple weird issue-breaks that do not match up with the episode-breaks in the cartoon.

This issue picks up with the turtles facing some random/weird robots. After dispatching these, they deal with another deathtrap, and then find Splinter…and meet Bebop and Rocksteady. Escaping to the surface, the turtles are followed, but quickly trap Bebop and Rocksteady, and that’s that.

Continuing on, Shredder has a new scheme, and coopts bumbling scientist Baxter Stockman’s “mouser” invention. He sends some after Splinter, but the turtles rescue their master with no problem. However, Shredder’s built hundreds more and they do prove to be a problem. Michelangelo “volunteers” to infiltrate the mansion Shredder’s commandeered, but is captured the the villain…though set free behind his back by Krang. The Mousers are stopped, no one’s dead, and again, that seems to be that. Shredder still won’t give Krang a body, and initiates yet another scheme: opening a portal to Dimension X he lets a flying car into the Technodrome (which promptly blasts a hole and skidaddles), followed by a flying tank of sorts with rock soldiers…and that’s the end of the issue.

The art for this issue is consistent with the first…much of my thinking on the first issue applies here as well (cool to see the Mirage team on the issue, etc). While the visuals are stylistically their own thing, they are clearly based on the cartoon and fit well without seeming particularly “off.” Essentially they’re simply comic versions structurally, but based on the cartoon elements.

The story is where most of my problems lie…particularly where the cartoon itself seems choppy and just runs from points ‘A’ to ‘B’ to ‘C’ and following that so closely, the comic seems super-compressed, well beyond any preference I’d have to avoid “decompression.”

And therein I find the issue–it’s not so much the writing of this comic that’s the problem as much as it’s the source material. I’m consciously aware that this issue’s story is itself based on another story, and the writing keeps faithfully TO said source material. The faults come from the ludicrous, goofy, weird stuff that (in remaining faithful) had to be translated into this adaptation.

While the first episode of the cartoon–and therefore, the bulk of the first issue–was charming enough in its own way (and gave a roughly whole story without tying up plotlines and such), this is the middle chunk of the overall 5-episode arc and middle of this particular 3-issue series. Sadly, it’s really choppy and all over the place, and the only real fondness I find in it is the art as mentioned, and its “place” as an artifact of history.

Taken by itself, I had to force myself through the issue, and force myself not to just quickly eyeball the pages and move on.

TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures (Mini-Series) #1


tmntadventuresmini001Heroes in a Half-Shell!

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

It’s rather interesting to consider that this was–I  believe–the first color TMNT comic. Sure, First Publishing had colored the original black and white issues, but this issue began as a color production rather than the color being a conversion. And where the original Mirage TMNT comics were certainly of a more mature nature for violence and language, this is based on the animated series that was aimed fairly squarely at kids.

Reading back through the issue, it has–for this fan of 26+ years–a lot of familiarity, both from the cartoon as well as the visual style of the art. Which ultimately makes sense, given Dooney‘s involvement with the Mirage stuff in particular. The character designs are obviously those of the cartoon, though.

Being such an old comic–at least a quarter-century–it’s immediately clear some differences from modern comics physically; and my copy in particular isn’t a particularly clean copy…it definitely is a bit yellowed from age and all that, as the paper is classic newsprint, one can see the dots to the coloring, and so on.

As a whole, the art’s not bad in and of itself, though the style is a bit “interesting” having gotten used to more “modern” renditions of these characters. I rather like the realization that even though this was published by Archie, it was created by the Mirage folks…thus lending a certain authenticity to this as a Ninja Turtles thing, rather than just being some thrown-together adaptation of a kids’ cartoon.

Story-wise, this suffers the same as the cartoon itself does in my mind…overly-simplistic and full of glaring plot-holes and such, requiring a lot more suspension of disbelief than most comics I’m used to. There’s also something rather wonky about the pacing, with this first issue covering maybe an episode and a half of the cartoon, rather than just one episode. In that way it’s a rather “compressed” storytelling that (especially looking at it now) really needs a lot more room to breathe. And as a comic, it misses so much potential in terms of “enhancing” the cartoon with narration or thought balloons or such that just wouldn’t fit the cartoon but would a comic.

Other than some abbreviated dialogue and missing the show’s music, this is absolutely a straight up adaptation and it doesn’t begin to even try to be anything else–different or additional. In and of itself, unfortunately, I can say with honesty I find this issue rather hokey, choppy, and other than the art “working” it’s nothing particularly stand-out or impressive to me.

At the same time, this goes back to the very beginning of the TMNT in tv and “popular” comics, so it has a huge bit of historical significance and is in itself quite the “artifact” of its time. This is the first issue of 3, a mini-series, which adapts the entire first “season” or 5-episode mini-series of the TMNT cartoon. At a time when home media (VHS) was still relatively rare (especially compared to our contemporary age of everything being on DVD and so readily available to purchase and watch whenever we want) this was the closest I personally would get to “owning” the episodes to consume whenever I chose. Back in the late-’80s/early-’90s, though, I’d acquired a rather thick comic that came with an audiocassette, which actually collected all 3 issues into a singular volume…but was not itself a bookshelf volume or graphic novel…it was more an 80-page Giant or such.

Publish this as-is today and I’d be rather disappointed. But looking at it as a singular piece, and in context of its time, it’s not bad, and makes for a fairly interesting sort of read.

The Bebop Three – TMNT Toys

Cleaning out a storage room, I recently came across one of my oldest original TMNT action figures: Bebop.

I’d love to re-find my Rocksteady, as that was THE first figure I got, back in those dark days when numerous stores that didn’t even deal in toys had the TMNT figures, but no one seemed to have ANY of the Turtles themselves.

But that’s probably more a topic for some other post.

For now, I present the three incarnations of Bebop that I am aware of presently represented in action figure form (and not counting the oversized supposedly super-poseable figures or mini/vinyl figures…just the "standard" action figures).


Front and center is the original, who honestly–the more I look at him–just looks really weird to me at this point. On the far right is the 2016 live-action movie version. And back on the far left is the "current cartoon" version.

It’s interesting enough to me to compare the three. The original is…well, the original. A new character created specifically for the then-new cartoon series, a mutant/animal character to be non-human, for the physical violence (same as the Foot being robots, so it was not actually ninja animals beating up on humans). Mutant warthog, various accessories and such playing off the "wackiness" of the toy line, etc. Aside from the face, a muscular, bulky character that one probably would NOT really want to mess with.

The movie version takes the bulk to a different extreme, giving the image of say, a significantly overweight biker or such with this huge beer gut and too-small vest with no undershirt…if not just some "fat slob" and such (foregoing any comparison to bikers).

The current cartoon version is a much smaller, slimmer and aerodynamic image that retains the mohawk and gshades but otherwise quite a different interpretation.

Forgive the possible mental imagery, but the cartoon version seems to answer the question of "what if 1980s Bebop and Movie Bebop had a kid?"

Meanwhile, I would love to have "regular sized" TMNT action figures based on the IDW version of the characters. Those comics are what finally got me to "accept" Bebop and Rocksteady as "valid" characters as an adult, having come to see them as nothing but ridiculous, pointless, and dumb prior to the new IDW incarnation.

TMNT Toys – Armaggon

For me, at least, looking at the TMNT toys has become boring and stale–already having all the figures I’m interested in, or not willing to play the hunting game to get several that as a group justify each other (such as the frogs and I just can’t get behind this version of Mondo Gecko, and I’m still waiting for Man Ray…)

However, the other day I stumbled across one that I hadn’t even thought about being made (or had forgotten), but is truly a no-brainer for me on getting–I didn’t want to spend the money just then, but dreaded the hassles and gas money driving all over the place hunting it down later:


Granted, the toy is based on a derivative version of the actual character I’d want, but it’s better than nothing.

mighty_mutanimals_0007     tmnt_adventures_0043

The character was a villain introduced in the Archie TMNT Adventures continuity, first in a fight with Man Ray and then a 3-issue story The Future Shark Trilogy. The character was also revealed to have been working with a version of Shredder and another villain, Verminator-X (also from the future)…all of which was part of a relatively long-running element of the "future turtles," including the Cyber Samurai TMNT.

I always liked the villain, and was rather disappointed at the version concocted for the current tv series.

Still, as said–better something than nothing!


Here’s the front of the packaging…


and here’s the "profile card" for the figure–I’m glad they’re still doing these on the backs! Not as cool as the file cards on the 1980s/1990s line, but again, better than nothing!


And the full card back. I’m reminded that I still have not picked up any version of Rahzar…though with no Tokka equivalent, not as much interest. Plus, I already got Dogpound, so…yeah.

I wouldn’t mind getting Mondo Gecko eventually, I just don’t like this version of the character. Similar for Napoleon Bonafrog.

Of actual interest to me on this cardback, though, is a human version of Karai, that I’d actually be interested in owning (unlike the Karai Serpent released in the past).

Kinda hard to believe this line’s crossed the 4-year mark!

Hopefully we get some more new figures, and hopefully it is not hurt on the whole by the "integration" of the movie line…

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