Patrick: This series always makes me feel warm and fuzzy about families. While the four brothers all have their differences, it’s clear that their shared strength — both emotional and physical — is greater than the sum of the parts. They struggle, but they also love. Part of the reason I find those relationships so powerful is because I was exposed to them at a very early age, when I was trying to figure out how I fit into a family with my siblings, so it’s been easy to see myself and my sisters in the turtles. I had a pretty healthy family, maybe a little touch too cold and German, but everyone was happy and allowed to be whatever they needed to be. Not all families are so healthy, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 33 turns it eye towards the most dysfunctional family in the line-up: the Jones’. It’s a heartbreaking look at what happens when support structures fail.
Greg: There’s a level of poker-faced sincerity in The Illegitimates that is, at the very least, somewhat admirable. At times the issue reminded me of VHS box art to 1980s action movies, the “blue skies” of USA shows like Burn Notice, and a sense of hazy nostalgia that I’ve played this video game before but couldn’t tell you the name of it. I offer muted applause to the issue for offering unironically these kinds of low-stakes, predictable pleasures gleaned from these cultural experiences, yet can’t help but notice it neither commits hard enough nor subverts strongly enough to make any lasting impact.
Patrick: IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been something of a revelation for me. As an adult, I have been delighted to see the teenage-ness of these characters explored for the universal tragedy we all know it to be — isolation, anger, confusion. That’s hard shit that we all went through. These last couple issues at Northampton have allowed the creative team to meditate on those feelings against the quiet backdrop of some uneasy healing. But damn it all, they’re also ninjas. That means that part of their experience, part of the way they process their emotions, is through violence. Issue 32 trades in its quiet moments for explosive action beats, and while it’s harder to relate to that kind of resolution, the fact that it works so well for the Turtles reminds the readers that, for all we have in common with dorky teenagers, they are warriors and their salvation comes from making war.
Patrick: How do we heal? Whether the wounds are physical or emotional, there’s almost never a good answer to that question — certainly never an easy answer. When I look back on the biggest hurts I’ve recovered from, I know that I did heal, but I couldn’t for the life of me tell you how. I remember at the time feeling like there would be no relief — from a broken heart, or a broken bone. I was always afraid that I’d never get better, that I would only ever forget what “better” feels like and accept broken as my new emotional base. It’s unsatisfying and it’s messy and it’s prone to regression. The biggest fuck of it all is that there are no shortcuts. All of the Turtles (and their friends) are in need of healing, and it’s been such a slow beautiful process, I can’t help but feel unnerved when April introduces a magic healing goo. Fortunately, the tension between the quick fix and honest healing is right at the front of yet another fantastic issue of TMNT. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and (guest writer) Aaron are discussing X-Files Conspiracy Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, originally released February 19th, 2014.
Taylor: The crossover is deadly move in basketball. The quick change in direction shakes up the defender and often creates unique scoring opportunities for whoever employs it. Outside of the basketball court, however, the crossover enjoys a more dubious reputation. Countless times have two entertainment franchises created a crossover event to help generate buzz for each property, and countless times has this resulted in a complete and utter mess. I can’t blame publishers and studios for doing this though; it seems like a logical thing to do at first glance. Just take two things people like and mash ‘em together to create double interest! However, jamming two distinct franchises together is actually pretty hard, especially when each has its own distinct universe set up. That being said: what in the world can we expect from a crossover between Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the X-Files?
Today, Ethan and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 30, originally released January 29th, 2013.
Ethan: It’s easier to break than to mend. Anyone who’s ever fallen out of a tree and landed on their arm, or dropped an upright piano on their foot on moving day*, has first-hand experience with this phenomenon. Bones snap in a hurry, but they take forever to rebuild. The Mutant Ninja family just went through hell, and now that they’re safely ensconced in the barn down the road from April’s parents’ house in the country, they’re getting down to the painful process of knitting themselves back together. While this issue deals with the same setting and general themes as the previous one, it moves us forward in ways that make sure we don’t feel like it’s just a re-tread. Not to mention that its final panels signal that we’ll soon be leaving the realm of sleepy barns in the woods for a return to beat-down brawls against the Foot. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Utrom Empire 1, originally released January 22nd, 2014.
Patrick: Leadership is the damnedest thing. Unless the people you’re leading believe or value the same things you value, everything falls apart. Hearts and minds, right? Without ideological unity, imperialism fails. These are the kinds of thoughts that didn’t bother 9 year old Patrick — nor should they have — so I never considered the tenuous position Krang finds himself in constantly: fighting for an empire that no one even seems to give a shit about. In Paul Allor and Andy Kuhn’s Utrom Empire, Krang’s authority is tested at every turn, and the abstract concept of the “Utrom Empire” starts to take the mythical shape of a force bigger than any one character’s ambition. It’s about fear, it’s about power, it’s about survival. Continue reading
We all love a good one-off or anthology, but it’s the thrill of a series that keeps us coming back to our comic shop week-in, week-out. Whether it’s a decades-spanning ongoing or a short-run miniseries, serialized storytelling allows for bigger casts, bigger worlds, and bigger adventures. We were lucky to read a lot of great series over the past year, but it’s those that pushed the boundaries that we wanted to sing special praises of. These are our top 13 series of 2013.
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 29, originally released December 18th, 2013.
Taylor: Despite its dubious reputation, the 1990 live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is actually a pretty good movie. While some see it simply as a cash cow (which, it also certainly was), it also has a good amount of heart and depth. Midway through the movie, the turtles get pretty beat up by the Foot Clan and Master Splinter is captured. The turtles retreat to April’s farmhouse and while there, they heal and experience a spiritual and meaningful growth. They learn to function better as a team and dig into the depths of their beings and find what it is that makes them special. This is the climax of the movie. These scenes are where the turtles come into their own and turn the corner and realize they must and can defeat Shredder. With this in mind, it’s exciting to see the TMNT series move its focus to April’s farm. In the wake of City Fall, what can the turtles learn? What must they learn in order to survive as a force for good and family? Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries 8: Shredder, originally released December 4th, 2013. Taylor: For many things, the magic is in the mystery. Not knowing how a magician sawed that lady in half makes the trick something more than it really is. We all know that the magician isn’t actually cutting a living person in two and putting them back together again. However, we don’t know exactly how they created that illusion and are left to wonder how exactly the trick (or illusion) was pulled off. This blurs the line between reality and perception and lets the imagination fill in the gaps. Anything is possible in this space and therein lies the beauty of a magic show. Just so, the circumstances surrounding Oroku Saki’s death and rebirth have, up to this point, been shrouded in mystery. It’s been fun speculating just how the turtle’s age old enemy has defied death, but in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries 8: Shredder, we get some definite answers. With the illusion of his rebirth dispelled, it seems that the TMNT universe has lost a little magic of its own.