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TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #6

tmnt_adventures_revisited

tmntadventures006Of Turtles and Stones and Mary Bones

Plot by: Ryan Brown and Dean Clarrain
Written by: Dean Clarrain
Pencils by: Ken Mitchroney
Inks by: Dave Garcia
Letters by: Gary Fields
Colors by: Barry Grossman
Edits by: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: November 1989
Cover Price: $1

I can’t remember for certain the first time I encountered the character of Mary Bones, but I suspect it was one of those “storybook” paperbacks put out ages back that adapted some comic stories…with a mix of memory and deja vu I feel like I learned of the Turnstone in one of those and noticed later that the comics seemed to be the source. I also have this voice of the character in my head that I can’t quite place…like I heard it as one of those comics on cassettes, and yet this was not part of either of the ones I was aware of prior to the latter part of 2014.

This issue continues the “new direction” for the TMNTA title and world-building by way of introducing new characters…this time, Leatherhead. For the timeframe I can’t imagine the character had not yet been introduced in the Mirage comics nor the cartoon. So this made for a third version of the character much different from the previous two.

We meet a man–Jess Harley–in New Orleans who sneaks into the home of an old witch named Mary Bones and steals a giant pearl. Making his way to New York to sell the object, he loses it into a sewer. On trying to retrieve it he’s confronted by the “mystical” Mary Bones herself who transforms him into a gator-man “…a Leatherhead.” Begging her to not leave him, Leatherhead falls into the latest of Shredder’s hideouts. Seizing the opportunity, Shredder lies and claims the turtles volunteered for transformation, and captured his accountant and real estate agent (Bebop and Rocksteady) and subjected them to Bones’ transformation. When they find and attack the turtles, the lie is revealed and in a rageful tantrum, Leatherhead accidentally destroys the bridge he’s on and plummets into the depths. Mary Bones appears to the turtles and informs them he’s ok, and that they’ll soon face The Final Conflict, before Raphael notices something shocking and the issue ends.

This done-in-one origin of Leatherhead works well for me though it’s a bit formulaic. Like Man Ray last issue, we’re briefly introduced to the human character, witness their transformation event, see them encounter Shredder and then by issue’s end leave, not actually joining up with or staying with the turtles.

The art’s nice and consistent with the last couple issues…I like the designs overall despite Leatherhead not looking QUITE as fearsome as he could if his teeth were drawn as pointed rather than rounded. Otherwise liked the visuals…especially the full-page premiere/establishing shot of Leatherhead.

Knowing what comes, I picked up immediately on some major foreshadowing and kinda enjoyed the “prophecy” with Mary Bones at the end, setting up a longer arc/plot point but not hijacking the core story for now.

There are still some elements of the story that are rather “convenient” and “plot-hole” like (Leatherhead falling into Shredder’s hideout, Jess going straight to New York, etc). But I’m willing to overlook them for having enjoyed this issue, and knowing there’s further development of Leatherhead imminent, and this being the start of a great run on the title and recalling how much I enjoyed later issues.

One could pretty easily pick this issue up without any prior experience with the series and enjoy it…the issue’s “cliffhanger” is hardly a cliffhanger and more a forced “hook” at the last second to try to interest one in coming back rather than closing off on an otherwise one-shot/single-issue story.

I believe next issue is where we’re introduced to the Intergalactic Wrestling and Stump Asteroid…and I look forward to getting into that.

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.

TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #1

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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 #6

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Full Post at TMNT Revisited
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #6

TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures #5

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Full Post at TMNT Revisited

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #5

Harder-to-Acquire Acquisitions

I’ve come to take it for granted having a number of great comic shops nearby, amazing bargain-bins, and when I can’t find stuff in-person, the ease of eBay, and several online retailers.

But…in classic Archie TMNT, I’ve found a major hole in everyone’s stock, where I’m having to actually branch beyond usual sources and/or prices…and the simple point-and-click of online purchasing.

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I was able to order these TMNT Classics Digest issues from Mirage Licensing for a very reasonable price. Unfortunately, I’m left several issues shy of the 7-issue set, and “no one” stocks ’em.

And I more than DOUBLED the amount I have EVER paid for ANY single issue of a comic, bidding on the TMNT: Intergalactic Wrestling issue (and this without even the audiocassette it was originally packaged with).

But I’m relatively determined to finish my Archie collection of TMNT, and have just a handful of issues left to do so.

Definitely a bit of “fun” to the “hunt,” and a bit more satisfaction and sense of “reward” than with ordering something simply, common, that I can compare prices across multiple sources to save a couple dollars, etc.

And it’ll be cool to complete an “active subcollection,” a finite body of books, in the Archie TMNT stuff.

Just a little further to go…

My Earliest Comics (part three) – Grant Morrison’s Secret Origins and the TMNT

I got my introduction to the concept of the comic book way back in 1988 or so, when my mom and grandfather introduced me to comic books with a stack of Silver Age DCs. But my REAL start into comics was with those earliest comics that my parents bought me. This week, I’m providing a brief look at what my earliest comics were.

In this third installment: Secret Origins and the Ninja Turtles!


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I’m not sure what prompted this purchase, but I recall my dad buying this one for me. Maybe it was the “Secret Origins” title itself.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized this issue was by Grant Morrison…it was rather cool to realize I’d read some of his earlier work.

The JLA story particularly stuck out to me, from the point of view of the mountain they had their HQ in. The bit about how “The shining red one” went, then came again, and was gone was very eye opening at the time. I still hadn’t realized that the Flash character I was reading in the then-present (The Superman/Flash Race from Adventures of Superman) was not the same Flash from my Grandpa’s comics.

I think this issue may have been when I started to realize that there was something significant out there that made these comics different from what I’d read of Grandpa’s.

tmnta025

I’ll detail more of my earliest exposure to the TMNT in another blog soon. But A friend brought this comic to my attention at the mall, and I convinced Dad to buy it for me. I had now idea who the alien guy was, or what was going on story-wise beyond this single issue…but it fit right in with the cartoon at the time. The only REALLY weird thing was Krang affixed to Shredder’s head and the turtles having to “save” him.

tmnta017

Not long after #25, I came across this issue at a flea market my aunt was working at. I convinced Mom to let me get this issue, though again–didn’t know what was up with overall story stuff, didn’t pay much attention to numbering at the time except knowing each issue had progressively higher numbers.

Didn’t understand why Raphael had black tights on, but it was what it was…

mutanimalsintro

I’m pretty sure this one was one that Dad bought me. In retrospect, quite the value–96 pages (3 issues’ content) for $3. At the time, I recognized the chapter breaks, though wasn’t entirely aware of what they meant. Eventually came to realize that this contained material that was originally 3 separate issues (the Mighty Mutanimals 3-issue mini-series).

The story–these characters fighting against an alien invasion–was epic stuff back then to my 10-11-year-old self.

tmnta030

I don’t quite recall if I got this issue off the rack at the mall or if I came across it later after discovering an actual comic shop…but I want to say this was my first “regular” issue of TMNTA, when I began specifically collecting TMNT comics.

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This issue stuck out for me as really marking a difference in the cartoon and the comics for the Turtles. April had a boyfriend, Splinter seemed younger and much more involved in their lives, and the characters were abroad–not based in NYC. Come to think of it…I don’t recall if they really ever returned to NYC properly in this title. But that’s something for another blog.

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