Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 42

tmnt 42

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 42, originally released January 21st, 2015.

Taylor: Politics are a funny thing. Essentially, those who enter the forum are knowingly entering a profession where they will lie and be lied to basically every day of their professional lives. I don’t mean this to condemn — political strategy dictates that one must look out for their own interests at all costs, often times even at the expense of any sort of code of honor. In this way politics mirrors the natural world, for in both cases it’s truly a survival of the fittest endeavor. Given its beastly leanings, it therefore should be no surprise to any of us that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would eventually try its hand at a political thriller. Sure, the players in this case are mutants, ninjas, and alien brains, but let there be no mistake: issue 42 is a political thriller of the highest order. Continue reading

Best of 2014: Best Series Part 2

Best of 2014: Best TitleWe 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. Indeed, we’re so enamored of serialization that we decided to split our favorite series list into two installments. Here’s part 2 our top 14 series of 2014 (click here for part 1).
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Star Trek/Planet of the Apes 1

Alternating Currents: Star Trek/Planet of the Apes 1, Drew and SpencerToday, Drew are Spencer are discussing Star Trek/Planet of the Apes 1, originally released December 31st, 2014.

When are they going to get to the fireworks factory?

Millhouse, The Simpsons “The Itchy & Scratchy & Poochie Show”

Drew: One of the hardest things to ignore when evaluating a work of art is your own expectations. Whether they’re unreasonably high (guaranteeing disappointment) or unreasonably low (setting the experience up for failure), our expectations only get in the way of what the art actually is. At the same time, genre fiction — and especially established franchises — run on our expectations. Where would James Bond be without his peculiar martini order or idiosyncratic way of introducing himself? These may ultimately be trivial elements of the story (though larger structural elements are not immune to these rigid expectations), but for whatever reason, they’re strangely satisfying to fans. A story that hopes to do something new with established franchises — as Boom! Studios and IDW’s new Star Trek/Planet of the Apes sets out to — has an awkward tightrope to walk, then, beholden to fan expectations that only partially apply. That tension leaves the first issue overburdened with exposition, robbing it of much of the fun promised on the cover. Continue reading

Best of 2014: Best Issue

Best of 2014: Best IssueEpisodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 14 issues of 2014.
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters 3

Today, Taylor are Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters 3, originally released December 24th, 2014.

Taylor: One of the most fun parts about comics is seeing characters team up with each other. In some cases this is more a novelty than anything and in others its the entire onus behind a series. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Ghostbusters falls each fall into the latter category. While each team certainly has a memorable cast of characters, the comics and stories are really at their best when we see the teams interacting. Given this, it’s interesting to see the two series mashed together because it raises so many questions about how the chemistry from both teams will mix. In issue three of TMNT/Ghostbusters, things are getting more dire for our heroes, forcing them to work together more than ever before. But do these two close-knit teams work together well?

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 41

tmnt 41Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 41, originally released December 2014. Patrick: I saw The Expendables when it came out in theatres in 2010. I ended up really enjoying the experience, if only because the flick ends up being a comedy of unintended juxtaposition. Stalone and company think they’re making an uber action movie, but the truth is that Jason Statham movie is not the same genre as a Jet Li movie is not the same genre as Sylvester Stalone movie. It’s a mess that so blindly and courageously moves from one “here’s what’s cool about this guy” scene to the next, with no regard for its own identity. There are also a lot of genres buried in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and while issue 41 has a lot of work to do to step up how all of these pieces will come crashing into each other, the creative team leverages the hilarity of the same kind of juxtaposition The Expendables does. Only, y’know, on purpose. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 40

tmnt 40Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 40, originally released November 26th, 2014. Patrick: They started out as a joke — an answer to the dare “what’s the weirdest thing you can draw?” A mutant turtle that’s also a ninja, and what the hell, let’s make him a teenager just to layer on the strangeness. “Mutant” and “teenage” made them marketable, but it’s the absurd combination of “ninja” and “turtle” that always stuck in my brain. It just doesn’t make sense: why would a turtle ever be agile and stealthy? They’re bulky, presumably sorta heavy and shouldn’t even have the fingers necessary to grip a katana. That contradiction ends up imbuing the characters with both weight and speed simultaneously, and one of the great pleasures of IDW’s run on TMNT is watching different artists try to capture the sheer momentum that these four brothers represent. Issue 40 is a tour de forces-at-motion-staying-in-motion for Mateus Santolouco, who delivers page after page of stunningly realized action. It may be a brawl between a dozen mutants, but the physicality is so present and so vibrant, believing the insane action is only natural. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters 1

Alternating Currents: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ghostbusters 1, Drew and GregToday, Drew and Greg are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters 1, originally released October 22nd, 2014.

Drew: I think the word “love” is overused when it comes to pop-culture. I mean, I like Star Wars as much as the next guy, but it only took a few shitty prequels to reveal just how conditional that fondness was. More importantly, when we claim to “love” every bit of pop ephemera, the word looses it’s meaning — to paraphrase Syndrome when everything is loved, nothing is. As fond as my memories of The Magic School Bus or M*A*S*H might be, I’m going to reserve “love” for the few things that have a deeper, more profound meaning to me. I say this because I want to be perfectly clear what I mean when I express that I love Ghostbusters and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Both properties played massive roles in my childhood; I saw the movies (dozens of times each), I watched the shows, I played with the action figures — heck, I even covered the theme songs for both in my band in high school. A crossover event like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters should be a match made in heaven, then, right?

Well, it turns out it may be a bit more complicated than simply smashing them together — especially if you want to do right by the characters and the universes they occupy. Fortunately, IDW has proven time and time again that they are very invested in doing their crossovers right, giving over the majority of this issue to explaining how these characters could be interacting in the first place. The only downside to all that explanation is that we don’t get much of that interaction in this issue, but that doesn’t stop writers Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz from delivering a ton of fun. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 39

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 39, originally released October 15th, 2014. Taylor: Whenever we think about the 1950’s we inevitably think about the Cold War between Russia and the USA. The Space Race and a setting for alternate histories aside, the Cold War did little for either country. In the USA, fear of communism ran amok to such an extent that senators were able to persecute people on mere suspicion. In the USSR, money was spent so much on military and the like that the basic needs of many citizens were forgotten. In both cases there is a strong lesson to be learned: don’t let fear dominate your decision making. Despite these warnings, people continue to make this same mistake over and over again. In TMNT 38, we see that even the very wise and powerful are susceptible to the pull of fear. The question is, when they succumb to it, just what are the consequences? Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 38

tmnt 38Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 38, originally released October 1st, 2014. Drew: Back when I was a teen, I used to fight with my parents about everything. It’s embarrassing to think about now, but at the time, nothing in the world seemed fair to me. It didn’t matter how petty it was — from mowing the lawn to cleaning up my room — everything was worth the fight, though none of it ultimately mattered that much to anyone involved. The Turtles decidedly do not fall into that pattern — their loyalty to Splinter is admirable, if a bit unusual from a bunch of teenagers — but issue 38 finds them disagreeing about big decisions that effect all of them. It’s a classic turtles story that we’ve seen time and time again with one important change: this time, the dissenting brother isn’t Raph. Continue reading