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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.

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