Taylor: They say that time heals all wounds. Everyone knows that this saying has both a literal and metaphorical meaning. For only time can take the sting away from hurt feelings and only time can mend a broken body. However, time also causes things to fester and decay. Eventually, time kills or destroys all. While the truth of these statements can’t be denied, I think whether a person views time as a destroyer or a healer says a lot about their viewpoint on the world. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 50, a clash of these two viewpoints takes place, and the head-to-head encounter leaves one dead and the other walking into new territory. The result is an issue focused on the past, the future, and the passage of time.
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 49, originally released August 19th, 2015.
“Let’s get ready to rumble!”
-Michael Buffer, Ring Announcer
Patrick: Michael Buffer started using his signature phrase in 1984. It’s short, it’s sweet, and belted out in Buffer’s distinct tenor, it can bring a crowd to their feet. The dude trademarked the phrase in 1992, and since then, he’s gotten paid for every single time it’s used. It’s estimated that the phrase is worth $400 million – that’s $80,000,000 per word. Why should a single sentence — no matter how powerful — ever be worth that kind of money? Because the pageantry involved in the pre-fight ritual ends up being more important that the fight itself. Hype is an art form. No one calls out “let’s get ready to rumble!” in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 49, but the issue is so singularly obsessed with hyping one specific rumble that it’d be easy to forgive the creative team for invoking Buffer’s cash cow. And even though they haven’t: I’m ready.
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 48, originally released July 29th, 2015.
Taylor: Time is hard concept to understand. On the one hand, it’s totally an invention of humankind and wouldn’t exist without us. On the other hand, it does seem like things more or less move temporally in some fashion independent of human thought. That’s basically the second law of thermodynamics. The point is, time is a complicated concept. It should be no surprise then that time can be difficult to illustrate in comics. It’s such an abstract concept that it’s not always easy to show readers. However, one of the things comic book artists are experts at is showing the movement of time in and between panels. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 48, artist Cory Smith puts on a clinic on how to show the passage of time. Subsequently, this issue is beautiful to read.
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 46, originally released May 28th, 2015.
Taylor: Long form storytelling is all the rage right now. Aside from the occasional sitcom, it’s rare to find a medium where long, syndicated story telling isn’t the norm. While TV shows are a prime example of this trend, podcasts, novels, and even movies are now using multiple installments to tell a grand story. The neat thing about this is that it allows writers and artists to craft a complex story with complex characters that would go unexplored in a shorter format. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, now in its 46th issue, certainly qualifies as a long story and while that may no longer be unique in today’s world, what does stand out about it is just how expertly crafted this grand narrative has been put together. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 45, originally released April 29th, 2015.
Taylor: Teaching figurative language to my students is always a fun task. Middle schoolers are some of the weirdest people you’ll ever meet and thereby one shouldn’t be surprised by how weird their similes, metaphors, and alliterations become. They almost seem to have a knack for such connecting ideas that feels completely random. This randomness, however, doesn’t serve them well when they try to figure out the meaning of an idiom, or turn of phrase. For example, they would have no idea how to figure out what the term “one-trick pony” means. It’s not that they’re dumb, they just don’t have the experience and knowledge to draw that sort of conclusion yet. So, if I were to describe to them that TMNT tries to make a one-trick pony perform a second trick and fails, they wouldn’t get it. Sadly, that doesn’t mean it’s not true. Continue reading
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?
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
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, 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