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The Death of the Super-Blog Team Up Aftermath II: A Mighty Sendoff!

All the work I put into my Super-Blog Team Up post (The Death of the Mighty Mutanimals) and I completely forgot to include an image I’d stumbled across in a comic I stumbled across that touched on stuff.

This "pin up page" was in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #61.

I miss this sort of thing…in addition to the full-length issue’s contents, there were also a couple of "pin up pages," showing off art that wasn’t part of the actual story. And it was original–none of this "sketch" or "process" or "dvd-style ‘extras’" stuff that gets jammed into comics nowadays to try to "justify" $3.99 or $5.99 or such.

They were also largely the equivalent of what are nowadays done as variant covers.

But that’s another topic for another time!

Here’s the "forgotten" image:

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And of course, if you missed it the other day or you’re reading this post out of context…check out the links below to my fellow bloggers, who were kind enough to include me in the (final?) Super-Blog Team Up!

All are excellent reads, and well worth checking out!

 

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#RIPSBTU, #SBTU, #SuperBlogTeamUp

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Super-Blog Team Up – The ’90s Revisited: The Death of the Mighty Mutanimals

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Welcome to my first-ever post of something larger than just my own posting in a near-vacuum! I was recently added to the Super-Blog Team Up, a group of bloggers who occasionally unite to thoroughly cover a topic or theme in a way that no blogger can do alone.

This time around, the topic is one that has become all-too common and relatively meaningless in comics: death. There are a number of other blogs that are part of this, and I’d invite and encourage you to check them all out–both for their "tie-in" posts like mine is, but also for the indiviual flavor and content of the individual blogs. It’s quite a mix, and being in such great company has led me to try to really "up" my game with my own participating post below!


The earliest days of the 1990s…

After several new mutant/animal characters were introduced in the pages of the Archie-published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures title, they were eventually brought together as their own team, and spun off into their own mini-series. We went from this ad:

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…to the premiere issue of the title:

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The Mighty Mutanimals title took on a storyline that had been building in the pages of TMNT Adventures and following these other characters (and Raphael) as they fought the villainess Maligna, and ultimately stopped her invasion of Earth.

The characters decided they’d worked pretty well together, and decided to stick together as a group. Thus, we then had the ongoing series of the same name.

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Over the course of the series, we saw them following Jagwar’s mother on the Path of the Four Winds, as she’s been interrupted by an avatar of Death.

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The Mutanimals catch up to, and the story reconnects with, the ongoing TMNT Adventures title for the United We Stand three-parter. This story puts the turtles and the Mutanimals against the avatars of the Apocalypse: War, Famine, Pestilence…and Death. The story sports a 3-panel image spread across the three different issues…at the end of getting the three-part story, one has the entire image and the entire story!

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From there, we’re introduced to the villainous shark Armaggon, setting the character up for The Future Shark Trilogy in TMNT Adventures.

The team then re-encounters Captain Mossback, a figure Man Ray had faced in the past with the turtles…and then Slash returns, and seems to somewhat have his story resolved.

Surprisingly (to me at the time) that Slash issue turned out to be the final issue. I didn’t much follow "solicitations" and the like, though I’d occasionally get an issue of Advance Comics to check out upcoming DC and Marvel stuff. But I found out that The Mighty Mutanimals was ending when I read the note in issue #9 stating that it was the final issue.


Solidly into the ’90s…

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Not long after that, I learned that the Mutanimals were getting a "backup series" in the main TMNT Adventures title, and looked forward to it. The backup spanned the run-up to #50, and the return of some characters from earlier in the series. I remember having no idea how long the team would run as a backup, but figured as long as they were continuing, things would be ok.

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I was NOT all that enthralled with the new villains they were facing. They were very much "typical ’90s villains" and seemed to essentially be caricatures of a sort, playing off the "grim ‘n gritty" wave of characters of the time.

We were introduced to Waster, Fist, Dead-Eye, and Lynch…who were (literally) gunning for the Mutanimals.

Over the course of the backup, the Mutanimals finally got a headquarters, aided by the future-versions of Donatello and Raphael (who’d been introduced in the Future Shark Trilogy)…and of course, faced these new villains. Though a challenge, the villains were defeated…but matters became worse with the return of old foes Scul and Bean.

Managing to defeat Scul and Bean (having learned a bit since their initial run-ins), the Mutanimals were not prepared for the ambush from the thought-defeated Gang of Four. The seven-issue backup series ended with these three pages:

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I remember thinking at the time that ok, this sucked, but we’ve got the time-traveling turtles, who seemed to have little trouble coming back in time, so surely they could fix things, despite their surprise at coming back, expecting to find the Mutanimals alive, but instead slaughtered on the beach.

Of course, it’d be hard to work their time-travel magic fixy-stuff if they didn’t survive Slash, who had made his way to the site to see what was going on, and on finding the Mutanimals dead, assumed the turtles (standing over the bodies) were the culprits.

This ending led stuff back to the main story in TMNT Adventures with the three-part Terracide story.

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Terracide dealt with the death of the Mutanimals, the turtles (future and present) finding their friends murdered, as well as the revelation and confrontation with the responsible parties! And dark as the Mutanimals’ backup series had been and wound up…it was sort of odd at the time seeing just how dark the main TMNT Adventures got with facing the heavy topic of such death and destruction…particularly of major characters!

TMNT Adventures #55 opens with a scene that begins pulling the main TMNT story to the path of the Mutanimals’ story, while Future-Raph and Future-Donnie deal with the immediate situation of the deaths of their friends.

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The turtles and Slash are interrupted by the arrival/return of Candy Fine, who witnessed the death of the Mutanimals. They get the story from her (and this basically covers the run of the backup stories).

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A bit of time passes, as the future-turtles, Slash, and Candy bury their friends’ bodies, and continue to mourn and reel from the shock of this unexpected loss!

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They leave the island, and end up meeting up with the present-day turtles, Splinter, and Ninjara. The entire group runs afoul of the Gang of Four, as well as another old foe, behind the villains and posing quite an epic threat in and of himself: Null!

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In typical form for comics in an age where collected editions were pretty rare and still a new-ish, unusual-ish format…there was plenty of exposition even within chapters of the same story, in a way that would be pretty unheard of with modern comics.

Continuing into the second chapter of Terracide in TMNT Adventures #56, we get another sort of re-telling of the Mutanimals’ backup series:

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This was the sort of thing that grabbed me, that made the story seem epic and ripe with potential. Yeah, the Mutanimals were killed…but some villain’s messing with the timeline. That means time is being messed with and as such, perhaps could be undone, and at the end of the story, after some hard-fought battle, Time itself would be restored and the Mutanimals would be alive again to carry on.

After all…they wouldn’t really be killed off completely and permanently, would they?

Later in this issue, Mondo’s girlfriend encounters a live Mondo Gecko…the villainous Null messing with her. He gives her a hellish vision, of the Mutanimals suffering and burning in hell:

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This image was a two-page spread, and quite possibly one of THE most disturbing, disquieting, uncomfortable images of the entire run of TMNT Adventures and The Mighty Mutanimals for me.

While Null escapes with Candy, the turtles and Ninjara manage to defeat the Gang of Four in a darkly permanent fashion. Despite having–to a large degree–"won" or achieved vengeance for their murdered friends…Null escaped ,and must still be dealt with.

The team splits up–which leads into the following story (this was also a time in which there were subplots and developments that would lead to larger stories, small things and large weaving in and out…but that’s a topic to get into in some other post).

In TMNT Adventures #57–Terracide part 3–we find that once more, Null was not working alone.

Once more, he has allied with Maligna!

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And thus, the entire Mutanimals saga basically comes full circle. The characters were brought together, formed a group, became the Mutanimals while stopping Maligna’s initial invasion attempt of Earth. Now the alien insect queen is back, and it is ultimately she who arranged for the Mutanimals’ deaths!

Pretty dark, a villain(ness) winning on such a grand scale.

But perhaps also effective in raising the stakes, showing just how dangerous she truly is (if not how flat-out lucky the Mutanimals were the first time dealing with her), and story-wise, allowing that much more a sense of stuff in the need to defeat her.

The turtles and their allies fight valiantly, but in the battle, Maligna’s ship is stalled, and headed right for the sun…they’re not even sure if they’ll escape.

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But Slash refuses to join them. After seeing his own world destroyed, after all he’s been through, and his rather recent "redemption" and allying with the Mutanimals only to see these new friends unceremoniously killed, he stays behind to buy the time the turtles and friends need to be capable of escape.

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Slash is killed ensuring Maligna and her allies cannot escape. Though the Mutanimals are gone…the orchestrators of their deaths are also taken off the board. Some measure of justice or revenge or what-have-you.


Impacting the ’90s…and Me

On the subject of death in comics, there’s plenty out there on a number of topics. Add to that that I wanted to pick a topic that I hadn’t really seen specifically covered anywhere, for my participating this first time in the Super Blog Team Up. I realized that offhand, I’d virtually never seen/heard reference to the Mighty Mutanimals by anyone else in general/casual comics discussion, and "the concept" of the Mutanimals has been somewhat redone in recent years.

Actually, their being redone has unfolded twice–once in the soon-to-end TMNT animated series from Nickleodeon, and the current ongoing comics from IDW. And a recent arc in the main TMNT book that involved the new iteration of the Mutanimals actually (for a moment as I read) gave me a slight "flashback" to the ’90s iterations’ deaths as I wondered if they were basically killing the group off in the current continuity. (Spoiler-ish: they didn’t, at least in that one). So with that stuff on my mind, I chose my topic, and here we are.

But what does/did it all MEAN?

Well, offhand, my initial response would be that their deaths didn’t really seem to mean much of anything, back in the ’90s…Not in the grand scheme of things, not outside of anyone reading Archie‘s TMNT Adventures, anyway. I don’t think I’ve ever seen reference to the Mutanimals’ deaths in any "death list" from the ’90s…I’m pretty sure I’ve never seen any mention of them in regards to the "effect of the ’90s" on comics…heck, outside of TMNT-specific sites and message forums, I don’t know that I’ve ever seen them mentioned, or any of their comics covered, etc.

The death of the Mutanimals certainly never overtly–that I am aware of–particularly inspired anything or caused any great ripples or garnered any specific attention or referencing.

So now, a quarter-century later…I am doing it. I am referencing them, and this, and devoting one of (if not THE) largest blog post I’ve ever written to the topic.

I was introduced to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in the fall of 1988…around the same time that I was introduced to comics (but that’s another story for another time). I resisted at first, but eventually "gave in," and then EMBRACED the concept…from the cartoon, to the toys, to books, comics, cereal, the movies, everything. I have some somewhat conflicting memories–of a lot of little elements in a relatively short time span remembered after over 25 years and 3/4 of a lifetime.

But this isn’t where I talk about my history with the turtles. This is my history with the Mutanimals.

Discovering Man Ray / Ray Fillet

afa_coversI had a birthday party at a local skating rink, and I think that might be where I was given Ray Fillet, one of the more "random" characters that I didn’t actually know anything about at the time other than what was printed on the card of the figure.

I also remember several "storybooks" of the TMNT, including one called A Fishy Adventure. This one was a story about the origin of Ray Fillet, mutated from marine biologist Jack Finney, and his first encounter with the turtles. I would later learn that it had the same story as one of the comics–an issue of TMNT Adventures. Nicely enough, said issue was the start of that series’ diverting from merely adapting episodes of the cartoon into a continuity all its own. I also got an issue of this color TMNT comic series at a flea market called The Red Barn that my aunt had worked at. I lacked plenty of context of the series–it was #17, and I don’t think I had (yet) read any other issues, except maybe #8 and possibly #11 that a friend had had. But this issue had the turtles, as well as April and a character that looked like Ray Fillet, but in the comic was called Man Ray.

Discovering Mondo Gecko

tmntadventures018I distinctly remember arguing with a friend over the pronunciation of Mondo Gecko’s name. "Mondo Geh-koh" vs. "Mondo Geek-oh." I was adamant it was "Mondo Geh-koh," largely due to one of my earliest memories in life involving toddling out to the kitchen for a drink of water and being startled by a gecko running across the front of the fridge.

I don’t know if I had the figure yet and the argument arose from the pronunciation then and there, in which case I’ve crossed memories with Ray Fillet; or from talking about the character because it appeared on the back of the card for Ray Fillet.

But I was interested in and wound up with/had Mondo Gecko. I vaguely remember the character appearing in an episode of the cartoon, but moreso I remember the issue he first appeared in in the TMNT Adventures series–#18–being one of my earliest "priced" back issues, bought for around $5 at Capp’s Comics (4+ times cover price) at a time when most new comics topped out at $1.50.

Discovering Leatherhead

tmntadventures006I’m pretty sure my earliest memory of Leatherhead is his appearance on the cartoon, bullying the "Punk Frogs," and sporting an awful cajun-ish accent that makes Gambit sound like Frank Sinatra…and a quasi-catch-phrase of "I guarantee!" I also remember the character’s figure being rather awkward and crouched over and far less "upright" the way most other characters’ figures were.

There was another "storybook," I believe TMNT: The Fight for the Turnstone, that had a completely different version of Leatherhead in it…one in which the character was an ALLY of the turtles rather than a villain, and had apparently started out as a human and was magically changed into a gator-man, rather than an alligator mutated to humanoid form.

leatherhead_wallartI also remember an image of the turtles fighting a giant alligator creature from a calendar my aunt got me (for the art, I think it was from the year before…I still have several of the pages, now framed and hanging as wall-art). I learned that this other version of the character (from the Mirage/original comics) was quite different from either version I’d encountered.

I got TMNT Adventures #6–that version of Leatherhead’s first appearance–from a bargain rack at Comics & Collectibles, another of my earliest "specific back-issue purchases/finds" in my earlier days of being "into" comics.

Discovering Wingnut and Screwloose

tmntadventures008It may well be deja vu of some sort, but I do consciously (now) know that Wingnut and Screwloose were in The Fight for the Turnstone along with Leatherhead and various other characters. Thinking back to as early as I can remember, I’m pretty sure that I first encountered these characters in TMNT Adventures #8 that a friend had, where I read their origin.

I also remember another friend (that I’d argued with over Mondo Gecko) having the Wingnut action figure that came with a miniature Screwloose, much as Muckman had come with Joe Eyeball, or several other characters came with "sidekick" like characters…except that "Wingnut and Screwloose" were more "named" and went together in a way that a lot of others (outside of Muckman and Joe Eyeball) did not.

The comics version was not much like the action figure in appearance–they were recognizably the same, on the surface, but not having the figure myself, I saw the comic version as quite different. And much like with Leatherhead, I remember their being part of the Turnstone story in that storybook, which I later learned was based on an issue or two of the TMNT Adventures comic series.

Discovering  Jagwar and Dreadmon

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Jagwar and Dreadmon were slightly later introductions for me, I believe I "met" them in the TMNT Adventures 1991 Winter Special, which reprinted the Mighty Mutanimals mini-series in a single issue. I later learned of their "origin issues" and got those for about $5 each, much like with Mondo Gecko’s appearance, from the "priced" back issues bins.

I don’t remember their playing MUCH of a recurring role in TMNT Adventures the way Leatherhead or Man Ray did…I mostly recall them AS Mutanimals characters.

Discovering Slash

tmntadventures024Slash is one of the earliest villain characters I remember getting from the toy line, after Rocksteady, Bebop, and the turtles themselves with Shredder, Casey Jones, and April. At the same time, remembering getting into the toys right at the height of their major popularity, it’s possible that I actually had Slash BEFORE the four turtles themselves! I distinctly remember rummaging through pegs and pegs of figures with Dad at the local Toys R Us (which is still there, as of this posting) and him wondering if the character might be popular for also being a turtle.

I then recall the character in TMNT Adventures, from my first "off the spinner rack" issue of the title, #25; and sometime after "backtracking" to his encountering the turtles in #24, before eventually getting back to #23 at whatever point I got that issue.

I believe I saw the character also on the cartoon, though right now I don’t remember if that would’ve been before or after the comics. I do remember Mutanimals #9 with Slash’s return, and then the character’s involvement in Terracide, as well.

Winter Special 1991 – TMNT Present: Mighty Mutanimals – Invasion from Space

mutanimals_tmnt_winter_1991_specialSeveral months after getting TMNT Adventures #25, I found a thick TMNT comic on the spinner rack at Waldenbooks, along with what turned out to be the final chapter of a multi-issue story in TMNT Adventures #30. The Winter Special starred The Mighty Mutanimals, and was an EPIC story of Raph and Mondo Gecko stowing away in villainous aliens’ ship and facing Maligna in her hiveworld, while Man Ray, Jagwar, Dreadmon, Leatherhead, and Wingnut and Screwloose dealt with Malignoid insect creatures eating the rain forest and such.

I remember reading this thick issue and seeing pretty clearly the issue breaks, and "sensing" that these were like three issues (despite being one big issue). Of course, I later learned I was correct, when I discovered the three-issue Mighty Mutanimals mini-series.

I also got the first issue of the ongoing series when that came out–it was RELATED TO the TMNT, and was a #1, so…yeah! Unlike the monthly TMNT Adventures, the Mutanimals title was a somewhat bimonthly book, not actually having a new issue every month. It eventually had a crossover issue with two TMNT Adventures issues in the 1992 story United We Stand (mentioned earlier).

tmnta36_mutanimals04I have a memory of a family vacation to Niagra Falls, and finding TMNT Adventures #36 and Mighty Mutanimals #4, and making the conscious decision at that point that I’d have to "give up" collecting the turtle figures to keep up with the comics, and WANTING to keep up with the comics more, enjoying their stories and such.

I remember reading in the letters pages about the possibility of a Mutanimals cartoon and being excited at that prospect…and the disappointment when not only did that not come to pass, but that the Mutanimals series was ending at #9, perhaps to return if anything would ever come of a cartoon, but that was that.

I somewhat recall being disappointed when the then-new backup feature started in TMNT Adventures, at how few pages they got, and that it wasn’t even a full "short" story, but just a few pages of some longer story. I enjoyed that we had some new villain characters for them, and that the "future turtles" Don and Raph were involved, and the Mutanimals were getting an HQ…it seemed ripe for a long-lasting "backup" that could lead to a new series and all that.

I was completely shocked when the end of the latest chapter of the backup in TMNT Adventures #54 saw the characters shot and blown up–killed–in what would be the final "backup" feature (though that story was shifted to the primary for the three-issue Terracide arc). Given the presence of the time-traveling Raph and Don, though…I know I’d THOUGHT they’d pull something outta all the time-travel stuff and wind up saving the Mutanimals…but they didn’t. We learned of Null and Maligna’s return and through the time-travel turtles that the Mutanimals were "fated" to die and such, and that they couldn’t be saved.

I was horrified at these deaths. These characters that I’d come to know in a way, that I’d gotten to read their debut "new" and follow their ongoing series from #1 (back then, a new #1 was actually a special thing!) were a pretty big deal to me. Sure, they weren’t the turtles themselves…but they’d all premiered in the pages of the TMNT Adventures title, and had been spun off into their own title, and even back then I had fond memories of the characters.

It always stuck with me, the Mutanimals having been suddenly and without much warning machine-gunned down, then blown away with a bazooka. No fancy last words, no long-winded death scene, no real goodbyes, no cover proclamation that In This Issue: Everybody Dies!…just suddenly the characters were actually shot ‘n killed, and that was that.

While I followed the TMNT Adventures for a few more issues…I actually missed an entire 4-issue arc, and there were only 15 issues of the title at all after Terracide, so this was sorta the "last, big event" of that title. With the Mutanimals gone, it was like the "heart" of the universe went with them.

I eventually came to learn that the Mutanimals were killed off because the creators figured they’d have more impact that way. [Though the only ‘source’ I could find was this forums.thetechnodrome.com post that suggests they were killed out of anger is the closest I’ve found to an actual source to the statement, though I’m sure I’d seen something in some comic or book somewhere else in the last couple years.]

In my searching, I did stumble across a blog from Steve Lavigne and Ryan Brown with a wealth of cool Mutanimals stuff, as well as another blog that seemed to be from Ryan Brown on the Mutanimals. And there was a great TMNT Entity post about the cartoon that almost was.

At the time, I lumped the death of the Mutanimals in with the rest of the ’90s and such, as it came about when it seemed like killing off major characters was the "in thing" TO be doing in comics.

Important as the Death of Superman and Batman: Knightfall were to me as a kid, I think the Mutanimals’ death was the most shocking. I don’t recall it being at all advertised ahead of time–it just happened. Then Terracide was another dark story, and not what I "expected" of the series.

I also have to wonder, in retrospect, at the impact on me with the TMNTA series itself…I got Terracide, and the 2-part story of them rescuing Michelangeo, and the Cyber-Samurai Mutant Ninja Turtles 5-parter. But I completely missed a 4-part story involving Ninjara, and don’t remember if it was when I got that story that I also got the final couple issues of the series, or if I had gotten the final couple issues when they first came out, just having missed/skipped the previous four issues.

But in a lotta ways, the Mutanimals were largely the "heart" of the TMNTA universe beyond the core turtles. They started out as "mutants of the month," new characters created/introduced to give some "story" to action figures concepts (or so it may have seemed at the time); but they also fleshed out and populated a wider TMNT Universe and ongoing saga that was rather definitive for me as a kid…and TMNT Adventures lasted more issues than ANY other TMNT series to date, though IDW‘s run is going to surpass it next month.  

In the last couple years, it’s been "interesting" seeing some of–or some form of–the characters brought back in IDW‘s main TMNT title.

I especially remember (a couple years ago) a scene in one issue with the new iteration of Slash with Mondo Gecko that made me smile…AND inspired me to cobble together a quick image I’d posted at the time, highlighting my "joy" at the revival of an old but familiar concept:

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It was also interesting seeing the concept incorporated into the 2012 Nickelodeon TMNT series as well.

I even just earlier this year acquired Leatherhead and Wingnut & Screwloose for the first time ever, "completing" my set of the classic action figures versions of the Mutanimals.

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But while I’m enjoying seeing the new iterations of the various characters, there’s a part of me that doesn’t exactly want to "accept" them. After all, they’re NOT "my" Mutanimals. "My" Mutanimals died in 1993, some 24 years ago.

Though I think the IDW iteration of the Mutanimals is already rivaling (if not surpassing) the longevity of the originals, it’s still a different concept to me. That said…there’s such a history to the Mutanimals as a group and individual characters that I catch myself mentally shifting some of that to the new versions of the characters.

And then over the course of the time I spent thinking about this topic, re-reading stuff, researching, and generally planning and procrastinating the actual writing of this post…two more TMNT issues came out, and each re-introduced an old, familiar character in a new way!

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The main TMNT title introduced the IDW iteration of Jagwar in #71…while TMNT Universe #11 introduced the IDW iteration of Dreadmon!

So while I have mixed feelings even there…it was a joyful evening to read those issues, and cool timing with me working on stuff for this post, and even manages to make me feel a bit "old" realizing how long it’s been and simply that I’ve been around long enough to see this come to pass.

But despite the ’90s, despite their deaths, despite it not seeming to impact much outside the TMNT sphere of direct influence…it’s apparent that the characters work, that they’re remembered, that they’re worth bringing into the contemporary TMNT universe/continuity…and that they matter.

I could keep going on and on…but I need to end this post somewhere.

I’ll certainly be revisiting much of this in the future, once I get back to my TMNT Revisited project/posts, covering the Archie TMNT Adventures issue-by-issue…including the Mighty Mutanimals issues.


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For now, 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! #RIPSBTU, #SBTU, #SuperBlogTeamUp

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TO BE CONTINUED…

Classic TMNT Toys: Ray Fillet and Storage Shell Michelangelo

It’s kinda hard to believe that toys I remember getting new off the pegs in stores like Hills, Best, KMart, Toys R Us, Children’s Palace are now considered vintage. Harder still to believe that I still have some of the cards around, as well as the figures!

This is the third in a series of posts sharing these cards/figures, much as I’ve done with the newer 2012-present line.


Ray Fillet

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This is another “early” figure for me, and also from early in my developing vocabulary. I originally read/pronounced the character’s name “Ray Fill-eht” rather than “Ray Fill-ay.”

I remember recognizing the similarities in this character, and a character in one of those “storybooks” that were out in the early 1990s, that I later learned were actually based on issues of the Archie-published TMNT Adventures. This Ray Fillet was the character appearing as Man Ray and one of the “founders” of the Mighty Mutanimals. There’s a much different-looking version appearing in contemporary IDW-published TMNT comics.

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Like many of the other figures, this was another “goofy”-ish mutant, rather silly and hardly anything “deep.” I’ve more recently learned that apparently a number of creators that were part of Mirage Studios at the time were encouraged to create/submit characters as possible action figures when the toy line hit it big, which certainly explains some of the random-ish characters.

As for me, I certainly appreciate that many of them were incorporated into comics that gave them more depth, even beyond anything granted in “an episode” or so in the animated series.

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I haven’t a clue where “Fish Stix” wound up, but I do remember making the connection that this was apparently a Glublub…though it was Bubbla that made the impression in the comics.

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Here’s the actual figure! One of the ear pieces is broken off, and the color-change elements of the chest and “shirt” are long since faded/gone-screwy. But it’s my genuine, original copy of the figure, still around to this day some 25+ years after getting it!


Storage Shell Michelangelo

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I’m particularly interested these days whenever I see the spelling “Michaelangelo” from this time period. Apparently Eastman and Laird goofed on the spelling–It’s actually Michelangelo–but their error was picked up and carried through half the character’s existence, I believe only eventually corrected as of 2001 or so when Laird relaunched a TMNT comic series.

I remember the Donatello with Storage Shell figure as the first/only of the turtles with that feature…then later the other three got the treatment. This was one of the ones that at the time I did get a “complete set,” really appreciating the molds/paintjobs (though I wouldn’t’ve had the phrasing to describe it as such back then). In retrospect, I suspect it was that the figures were pretty standard-ish–no fancy costumes, no externally-weird “theme” or variant. If one didn’t know the shells opened, the figures just look like slightly brighter/better-colored versions of the standard characters!

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To this day, I can’t begin to explain the “storage shell” notion for the actual characters. As toys that come with a bunch of miniscule accessories, I can appreciate that this was a way to have a little storage compartment to keep a bunch of them handy for play time…but showing the character in action with a shell open on a hinge is just kinda creepy…especially after the story in the IDW comics a couple years ago where Donatello was horribly injured when Rocksteady sledge-hammered his shell…

TMNT_cards_storage_shell_mike_back

I miss the days of these individualized cards with figures. The fronts are customized to the specific figure, as is the back–detailing included accessories (that I believe were quite visible through the bubble on the front) as well as the profile section.

I also miss having large multi-wave assortments displayed, to see what’s (been) available and exists out there. Contemporary toys showing the 4-6 figures within the same/current “wave” is ok-ish, but there’s something pleasantly rich about seeing so many allies and villains chaaracters just on the card…and it certainly did wonders for making me want more figures as a kid, giving me something (always) to be “hunting” for!

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Here’s the figure itself. Probably my only real “complaint” to the color scheme and such is the pink gums to the exaggerated grimace this version of the characters had. It just makes it seem all the more exaggerated, though at least definitely served to differentiate from the “original” version of the standard figures…especially since there was no special “costume” or such to otherwise set these apart when the shell is closed into place.


I think it’s safe to say that these are two of my favorite figures at this point, in looking back. The sculpts on the storage shell turtles, and Ray Fillet (though I prefer the Man Ray version of the character).

Next up, to wrap up this mini “series” of posts, I’ll show off TMNT II character Rahzar and what I consider to be a “later” random mutant, Walkabout.

Did you ever have any of the “storage shell” turtles? While I don’t recall if this concept was revisited during the run of the toys based on the 2003 animated series, “storage shell” versions were released a couple years ago for the 2012-present iterations of the characters.

Are there any classic TMNT toys of characters you’d want to get just for the sake of having the character?

Respond in the comments section for this post!

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #18

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tmntadventures018Mondo Metal

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney, Marlene Becker
Inks: Dan Berger
Colors: Barry Grossman
Letters: Gary Fields
Music by: Merciless Slaughter
Transcribed by: Dan Edwards
Cover: Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Editors: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: March 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

The turtles part ways with Man Ray in New Orleans–he heads off to investigate glowing meteors in the sea, the turtles and April head for New York. Upon returning, the turtles hear music and follow the sound to Shredder’s old lair where they find a band of kids. When the lead kid blows out the power, the place is plunged into darkness…but when the lights come back on, they’re surrounded by Footbots. The turtles leap into the fray, scattering the kids and taking down the ‘bots. A couple of the kids–Mondo and his girlfriend–get trapped in a room with one of the bots, which grabs Candy and knocks Mondo into a stack of mutagen barrels. While the Footbot takes off with the girl, Mondo mutates into a giant gecko (having most recently been in contact with his pet gecko during practice). He and Mikey take off on skateboards to rescue Candy. Though rescued, she can’t handle Mondo’s transformation, and the two part ways. Donnie notices some meteors behaving very un-meteorlike…but the group resolves to investigate later. Finally, the turtles make it home to Splinter (Mondo in tow).

I definitely remember getting this issue out of a back-issue bin at my then-local comic shop. The issue was a whopping $5…5x cover price, but it was bag/boarded in good condition, and at the time very definitely a BACK issue (I believe the series was at LEAST 20 issues further on if not more at the time I acquired this one). I bought this over several others because of Mondo Gecko (whose action figure I’d had awhile and had seen in the cartoon) being on the cover. I may have known this was his first appearance by then, but I’m not certain.

While the credits indicate Mitchroney was not alone in art chores, I’d have to go back and look for where his work left off and Becker‘s began. There are a couple awkward panels of Mondo, but by and large I simply enjoyed the art on this issue and didn’t give much heed to variances or such. The events are easily followed, so no problem from me.

As the turtles followed the sound of the band to Shredder’s old place, we get music/lyrics in the gutters of the page…I believe Mondo’s band is Merciless Slaughter, and I’m not sure if Dan Edwards is his real name (if Mondo is a nickname/stage name) or another character…or simply someone Clarrain & Co. had write some music/lyrics for the authenticity. I don’t really care either way…I’d have to spend more time looking closely and/or researching…though it might be a question worth posing to one of the creators if I ever have the chance.

The story itself is another “mutant of the month” (as I keep noting…) but we’re on the cusp of one of the largest “events” of the series (at least, I consider it so–due to the timing of when I got “into” TMNT Adventures beyond simply acquiring a couple random issues several months apart). Though I know that, the issue still feels rather full given everything that happens in it. I’ll take that gladly over it feeling decompressed, and certainly appreciate that it works in such a way as to provide quite a lot of stuff for the younger reader (my ~12-year-old self) to follow, while allowing an adult reader (my mid-thirties self) to “get” other stuff on a deeper level with more analytical thought.

Returning to my “season” analogy of this series, we’d be just about to the (in contemporary 2015 terms) “mid-season finale” with the “back half” of the season leading to the events of #25.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #17

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tmntadventures017Fight the Power

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney
Clean-Ups: Buz McKim
Inks: Dan Berger
Colors: Barry Grossman
Letters: Gary Fields
Cover: Ryan Brown, Ken Mitchroney, Steve Lavigne
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: February 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

Though we left off in the previous issue with the turtles on a beach and Mikey noticing a shooting star, we pick up a bit later here. Of course, that wasn’t so much a cliffhanger last issue as it was simply “where the issue ended,” with Bubbla’s burial. A meteor heads toward Earth, carrying Scul and Bean–agents of Maligna, the insectoid queen we were introduced to back just before The Final Conflict in TMNT Adventures #12. Though Krang was defeated and never followed through on his bargain with her, Maligna’s set her sights on Earth. Back to the turtles and April–Man Ray has them riding humpback whales for the final leg of their journey back to the US.

The group stops one last time at a derelict ship sitting out in the open, where Man Ray discovers some shrimp-trawlers are not using Turtle Extruder Devices, and ambushes the ship. He’s captured by the pirate captain of the ship, prompting the turtles to mount a rescue and put an end to the use of illegal trawling nets and subsequent killing of turtles and other sea life. Then as the issue ends, we learn that the mysterious Mr. Null has allied with Scul and Bean.

In a lotta ways, this is a fairly generic issue on the whole. We have the bookending of Scul and Bean’s arrival and revelation of alliance with Null; between we have a generic-ish one-shot of the turtles and a random “threat of the month” in the pirates’ illegal trawling. While we’d seen Scul or Bean before, I don’t recall either of them being named, so their appearance and naming in this issue qualify them for the “mutant of the month.” They’re also the main forward-movement of this issue’s story for the overall plot of the series.

Despite that, we DO get the turtles’ arrival back in the US after several issues away, and a lesson in nets used for shrimping and such, that devices exist to preserve sea life while allowing shrimp to be caught, and the threat posed to sea life when these devices are not utilized. And somehow I found this issue, this instance of such lesson-teaching far less preachy and a lot more “personal” than prior such cases. Perhaps that we see a dead turtle and our heroes are mutated turtles; perhaps it’s that this is shown as something much closer to home rather than on another continent, I don’t know.

This is another Mitchroney-drawn issue, maintaining a consistency for several issues now, that I’m definitely enjoying. No real complaints or problems with the art. The writing itself keeps things moving forward even though the “core” story is generic with a one-off villain/threat in the pirates.

Probably most significant for me is that this issue was the first single-issue of TMNT Adventures that I recall owning, bought at a flea market The Red Barn in Columbus (Ohio). I’m not sure if the edition I have here on-hand is the original copy I’d bought or a newer copy (without a barcode, perhaps) I picked up sometime since then. I went from this issue to my next being #25 some time after…whether this was new at the time or a “back issue” I’m not certain.

And probably FOR being my earliest issue, the cover stands out to me and is probably one of my favorites. There’s an ad in this issue for a poster one can get of the cover by joining a conservation group…I might have to see if I can track a copy down.

All in all, a good issue, the reading of which brought back some good memories, and certainly remind me that even as a 10-year-old I had no problem with the turtles looking a bit different than the cartoon; April not being dressed in yellow; this Man Ray character that I recall wondering at the name (I knew him as “Ray Fillet” thanks to the action figure), and had no idea about Scul, Bean, Kid Terra, Null, or why the turtles were “returning” to the U.S., etc. Yet I don’t recall any problem with it or not “accepting” it…everything just “was,” and didn’t discourage me from getting later issues once I figured out the series was ongoing.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #16

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tmntadventures016DREADging the Ocean Blue

Script: Dean Clarrain
Pencils: Ken Mitchroney
Inks: Dan Berger
Colors: Barry Grossman
Letters: Gary Fields
Cover: Steve Lavigne, Ken Mitchroney
Edits: Scott Fulop, Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: January 1991
Cover Price: $1.00

The turtles and April part ways with Jagwar and Dreadmon here, as they reach the Atlantic. The beach they find is covered in trash, but Donatello’s able to whip up a couple of tube rafts with propulsion and the turtles set out with April. April journals the journey, allowing for narration to the readers without having her overstating the obvious to her travel companions. The group finds an island thanks to some dolphins, though they’re surprised by a submersible vehicle that grabs them. Once docked, the turtles and April are offloaded into a holding room where they meet Bubbla the Glublub and are reunited with Man Ray–the manta-man they met back in issue #5.

After Man Ray recounts his time between that and this, the group realizes one of the walls of their prison is a thin two-way mirror and break out, where they begin to fight their way out of the place. “Kid,” the person who has been following them for Mr. Null shoots at Man Ray but hits Bubbla instead, killing him and enraging the mutant manta, who tears the place apart. With the help of some sea turtles, our turtles and April escape, and later (with Man Ray) hold a burial for the fallen Glublub.

I’m liking the continuity here. Jagwar carried over from a couple issues ago, while Dreadmon’s still here from last issue. But rather than the characters be “dragged around” or such, they’re (realistically) left near their “home territory” as the turtles continue their journey toward–ultimately–New York. We also get Man Ray back in things with an accounting of what he’s been up to for the last 10-11 issues. There’s something to revisiting his character lately, these earliest of his appearances, where I’m seeing a different depth to him than I recall. The death of Bubbla is a major event in his life that I recall being touched on repeatedly later in the continuity…and it happens rather fast and on-panel here…no time for touching goodbyes or last words or such, and that’s fittingly real, I imagine. It’s also rather dark…and offhand, I believe it’s the first death of a named character in this series. So to take a character like that and kill the character on-panel definitely sets this apart from what we’ve seen before, and puts more “danger” in the story–not EVERYONE gets out alive, minor character or not.

I also like April’s journaling…it’s reminiscent of the original Mirage book, and it’s nice to see, as well as the exposition it supplies. However, given the mode of transportation for the characters and April joining them in swimming to shore…I’ve got to wonder exactly how she keeps the journal intact and dry! I don’t remember it from any prior readings of the issue, but when Man Ray introduces himself to April, he acknowledges that some know him as Ray Fillet…which is a nice nod to the action figure; same character but two different names. Which came first, I’m not sure offhand, and it really doesn’t matter to me.

Mitchroney provides the art again this issue, another two-in-a-row rather than the alternating of the earlier issues. There are a couple questionable panels of Man Ray, though by and large I love how he looks here. No real complaints or problems with the visuals that I haven’t touched in before and felt extremely nitpicky on…it works for this series, the story, is recognizable and all that…in short, it’s good.

Though I’d functionally read issues 1-2 and the original mini-series thanks to the Random House editions of Return of the Shredder and Heroes in a Half-Shell, I believe the next issue is the earliest issue I actually read of this series recognizing it as such. We’re also getting closer to further payoff with a number of the “mutants of the month” characters and one of the larger (that I recall) stories in this entire series…and I’m REALLY looking forward to it!

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #5

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tmntadventures005Something Fishy Goes Down

Plot by: Dean Clarrain & Ryan Brown
Written by: Dean Clarrain
Penciled by: Ken Mitchroney
Inked by: Dave Garcia
Lettered by: Gary Fields
Colored by: Barry Grossman
Edited by: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: October 1989
Cover Price: $1.00

Finally…while covering the original TMNT Adventures mini-series and the first few issues of this ongoing series, I’ve been eager to get to this issue–and beyond. This is where things truly start, in my mind, as this series diverges into its own continuity, away from the cartoon and Mirage comics and truly becomes its own thing.

We begin with the turtles at an aquarium, where they meet a worker who talks to them about the difference in rays and fish, before sending them out as the place is closing. Meanwhile we learn that Bebop and Rocksteady have lost a container of mutagen in the sewer. As Krang gives Shredder a dressing-down we shift scenes to find that the aquarium worker is doing some investigating on the side–disliking pollution and companies doing the polluting. He’s washed in a surge of mutagen-tainted water and disappears. The turtles decided to walk home along the shore and become targets for a torpedo from Shredder’s sub. However, they’re saved when something turns the torpedo around. The turtles find Shredder’s sub–parked for damages–end end up screwing up a mysterious figure’s plans to blow it up, as the figure doesn’t want to harm the turtles–only Shredder. While the turtles fight Bebop and Rocksteady and accidentally flood the sub, the creature–a large mutant ray calling himself Man Ray–confronts Shredder. Declining to kill the villain, Shredder gets away, and the wearied mutant returns to the water, wished well by the turtles. The day saved, the citizens of New York get their fireworks display unaware of Shredder’s plan to have destroyed the Statue of Liberty.

Man Ray (or “Ray Fillet” as the action figure was named) is probably my favorite Mutanimal character (oops, we don’t get that term for quite awhile yet)…certainly my favorite of the “new mutants” introduced in this series; if only because he was the first, and was part of the story in one of the earliest issues I’d read.

The story is solid enough if a bit “convenient” at points…but I enjoyed it a lot more than I did the adaptations of cartoon episodes. I’d totally forgotten about Man Ray having a brief appearance as a human, and would not picture the character like that otherwise. 

The art was a bit of a surprise to pay attention to–I was expecting a bigger change, but the art team’s mostly the same, which leads me to reconsider certain memories OF the art on this series, for better or worse (I think better).

The tone is “fun” yet a bit more heavy and serious than the cartoon and earlier issues…yet still far from the dark, gritty violence that could be found in the original Mirage comics.

As I recall, the next several issues also introduce new characters, as this creative team gets into some serious, fun world-building and differentiates this series from Mirage and the cartoon.

So long as one knows the “basics” of TMNT in general, this issue serves as a great #1 in my mind, and would recommend anyone interested in TMNT Adventures as a series start here rather than with anything earlier.

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