Patrick: I’m a realist. I believe in that which we can observe and measure and quantify. I don’t like the term ‘atheist’ because it defines my beliefs in terms of what I don’t believe (i.e., God). But I also don’t like the term ‘skeptic’ because it implies that there’s some force of will out there in the universe trying to convince me that one reality is true, but I’m just to wily to fall for its tricks. Fiction has a habit of shitting on skeptics – the instant you meet the non-religious scientist in a movie that says “… but that’d be impossible,” you know that whatever he just said is SO TOTALLY GOING TO HAPPEN. God, ghosts, magic, you name it – they all end up being real in the third act (unless you’re talking Scooby-Doo, then all bets are off). Donatello has served as this voice of skeptic dissent throughout IDW’s run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While reincarnation makes for an interesting story about turtle ninjas, I never liked that Donny’s doubt would have to be somehow wrong-headed. Amid all the bombast of climactic interdimensional warfare, Donny gets an answer that is astonishingly satisfying, both to him and to me.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Secret History of the Foot Clan 4, originally released March 20th, 2013.
Drew: In my experience, there are two types of characters in action movies: those that act like it’s no big deal that that car just blew up, and those that understand that HOLY SHIT THAT CAR JUST BLEW UP! The former is obviously more badass, and I think captures a kind of aspirational relatability in the audience, even if the latter is ultimately more relatable — who wouldn’t freak out if they were caught in the middle of an action movie? Curiously, the relatability may make the characters in the latter category less realistic, as their presence often draws our attention to the artifice of the genre. It can be tricky to balance these characters (or these traits within characters), but Secret History of the Foot Clan continues to do so with aplomb. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Secret History of the Foot Clan 3, originally released February 27th, 2013.
Taylor: It’s weird to consider the effect that our legacies have on us. Who are family is and was, where we have lived and what we have done all impact us greatly when it comes to crafting our current identity. For some, a legacy is a source of strength and pride, while for others it may be the cause of embarrassment and pain. But speaking in the context of just a single lifetime, a person’s legacy can greatly influence their future actions. For a fun example, let’s take George Lucas. The man who created a classic and beloved franchise was so enamored with his legacy that he refused to listen to others when it came time to create his ill-fated prequels. Perhaps he was enamored with his own legacy as a genius myth-maker or perhaps he simply let pride get in the way. Nonetheless, his past influenced his actions, the resulting in a set of films that many felt betrayed his previous endeavors. It’s interesting to consider the role of legacies at play in the Secret History of the Foot Clan both — narratively and creatively — because they cannot be ignored in either instance. In this case, is the legacy a source of strength or a source of weakness?
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 19, originally released February 20th, 2013.
Drew: One of the things we love about fiction is the opportunity it affords us to live vicariously through its heroes. This is a feeling familiar to anyone who’s walked out of a movie theater feeling like they could fly, or at least swing from some vines. That’s all well and good when you’re being introduced to these characters for the first time, but that’s decidedly not the situation Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles finds itself in. A comic written by and for people who grew up playing with Turtle action figures, wearing Turtle pajamas, and chewing (and accidentally swallowing) Turtle bubble gum has the potential to cash in on those connections in fascinating ways, amping up that sense of vicariousness to euphoric levels. Be it repairing a futuristic robot, piloting an alien tank, or more traditional ninja action, issue 19 finds the Turtles living out all of their (and by extension, our) wildest dreams. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Secret History of the Foot Clan 2, originally released January 23rd, 2013.
Drew: The first issue of this series wowed me with the way its sophisticated exploration of narrative perspective. To me, the notion of a single story pieced together from tidbits contributed by many storytellers represented comics generally, and this iteration of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles specifically. In issue 2, writers Mateus Santolouco and Erik Burnham pull the scope back even further, commenting on previous iterations of the Turtles. As someone who grew up in the ’90s, I couldn’t be more pleased. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Secret History of the Foot Clan 1, originally released January 9th, 2013.
Patrick: The Secret History in question is delivered via a few discrete sources: Dr. Miller (a lecturer at April and Casey’s school), Splinter and Shredder. For obvious reasons, not everyone has all of these pieces of the Foot Clan story, but everyone does seem to want all these pieces. I always like it when our heroes are in search of a truth that I am also interested in — it makes me feel like we’re all on the same side. It’s like a detective story, except instead of trying to solve a murder, we’re working to understand history. Mateus Santolouco portions out the clues and delivers a story rich in culture and mythology, simultaneously important to all corners of the TMNT Universe.
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant ninja Turtles 17, originally released December 19th, 2012.
Taylor: There comes a point when reading anything that is speculative in nature where the author asks the reader to take a leap of faith. In The Lord of the Rings, the reader has no choice but to accept that magic and elves are every-day occurrences. Similarly, in Hebert’s Dune, you have to accept that spice is a wonder-drug and faster than light travel travel is physically possible. Most reasonable readers recognize these elements as fantastic and they also realize they are simply part of the universe that the author is creating. These readers also realize that to deny the validity of the fantastical elements of a plot would lessen their reading experience. Those who read Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are all too familiar with taking this leap of faith in their readings — just look at the title and main characters of the series. So when the title asks its readers to take an even larger leap of faith than ever before, perhaps it is worth discussing.
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 16, originally released November 28th, 2012.
Patrick: Killing. Your comic book heroes don’t like doing it. Famously, Batman has a no-killing policy, but if you look close enough, that mantra applies to just about everyone in a cape. But why? Is it the hero’s morality? Or is it the squeamishness of publishers that keeps their heroes from killing? After all, it’s such a neat dividing line: Green Lantern doesn’t kill, so he’s a good guy; Deathstroke does kill, so he’s a bad guy. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are a special case – they are essentially children, after all. But they exist outside of society and mutanes – re-incarnated murder-victims, trained by a ninja master. The psychological profile that background suggests is staggering. So when Leonardo is forced to kill to protect his family, the decision Means Something.
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries 8: Fugitoid, originally released September 5th, 2012.
Drew: Creating compelling characters is hard. Simply conceiving of multi-dimensional, realistic, sympathetic characters is hard enough — driving many writers to make extensive biographical sketches before even attempting to include them in a story — but it’s even more complicated when you want to integrate those characters and their unique motives and traits into your world. For most narratives, the basics of characterization can be handled up-front, as the major players are introduced, but for ongoing serial narratives, introducing new characters often requires clunky exposition that slows the momentum of the story. With the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles microseries, Editor Bobby Curnow and crew have realized a clever work-around, offering a space to explore the motives of the characters without taking time away from the propulsive narrative going on in the main series. It’s a brilliant idea, and Fugitoid is an excellent proof-of-concept. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Shelby are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Annual, originally released October 31st, 2012.
Taylor: We are all irrevocably tied to the past. Everything that we are and everything that we hope to be is somehow tied to what came before the present moment. Even though many have tried to escape their past, they have done so only futilely, for no man can escape the firm grasp of time’s arrow. While regret is certainly a part of living with the past, so is the realization that it can serve to inform us and makes us better people and our pursuits nobler. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has a past, one that is as checkered as any comic book to date. From its origins as a goofy and weird cult favorite, to the franchise-building TV show, and the franchise-crumbling movies, TMNT has truly experienced a varied life – to say the least. With all this cultural baggage built up, one would think it hard to revitalize the series while also staying true to its roots. However, Kevin Eastman, one of the co-creators of the series, has managed to pull off this feat in the annual edition of TMNT by acknowledging the past while at the same time taking a step toward the future.