Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 34, originally released June 4, 2014. Patrick: Are you ever at a party and meeting someone new and they ask what you do? Conventional wisdom says that you should just tell the person what your day job is — “I work in an office;” “I’m a teacher;” “I work in fundraising” — but we all know that’s a woefully inaccurate representation of what you do. We’re all hobbies and clubs and jobs and passions and interests. Prioritizing those identities is hard, so we tend to just slide back to describing ourselves by where we’re employed. But maybe we should all be introducing ourselves by saying “I read comics and foster daily online conversations about them” or “I’m an improviser” or whatever. Our priorities say more about who we are than where we burn eight hours in the middle of the day, right? The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are currently having their unified identity challenged by this very idea, as the looming threats of Krang and Shredder vie for the top of their priorities list. 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.
Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 28, originally released November 27th, 2013.
Don’t it always seem to go/that you don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone?
-Joni Mitchell, Big Yellow Taxi
Drew: It’s easy to take things for granted. In our never-ending quest for the better, we often overlook the value of what we already have — especially if we’ve always had it. “Youth is wasted on the young,” as they say, which I’ve always taken to mean that you can only truly appreciate a carefree existence once you’ve lived a careful existence. Because kids have never lived in a world where their parents weren’t always there for them, they can’t really understand what it is their parents do for them in the first place. I’ve long felt the same way about Leonardo. He’s the leader because he’s always been the leader — I’ve never really understood what it is he brings to that role on the team (you know, besides having any of the more distinctive quirks of his brothers). City Fall has long featured some exploration of what life without Leo looks like, but Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 28 shows just how well the turtles work without him. Continue reading
Today, Ethan and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries Villains 7: Bebop and Rocksteady originally released October 30th, 2013.
Ethan: If the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise were a film, it would be a little tricky to say what role Bebop and Rocksteady play. Not quite supporting actors, but more than extras, they fill an interesting niche in that world. They were originally conceived as a way to pack more mutants into the cast in order to sell action figures, but they’ve grown a bit past that, especially now in their own TMNT issue Villain Microseries 7: Bebop and Rocksteady. The story and art by Dustin Weaver and Ben Bates gives us a fresh take on their origins and follows their antics and induction into the Foot Clan, taking us right up to the events of TMNT #27, building out the characters into more than just the comic relief cardboard cutouts we saw in the cartoon series and somehow making them both easier and harder to relate to as we see their friendship and violence enhanced in step. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 27, originally released October 30th, 2013.
Taylor: In high school I ran track, an activity which was probably the product of your typical adolescent masochistic need to fit in and be cool. Running isn’t a fun sport and for the most part it’s pretty simple. Run faster than the other guy and you win. Despite these simple parameters surrounding track, there is at least a little bit of strategy that can help you win a race, namely: pacing yourself. Begin the mile run with a sprint and you’re bound to lose. Save all your gas for the last lap and you’re equally doomed. Ideally, you run at a pace that feels good and which happens to be faster than those around you. Save some extra juice for the final push near the end of the race and you could find yourself standing in the winners’ circle. Point is, pacing yourself is important, whether we’re talking running, boozing, or comics. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 27, puts on a clinic on how to pace a story wonderfully and the result is an issue that is enthralling from start to finish.
Today, Patrick and Ethan are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 26, originally released September 25th, 2013.
Patrick: The Foot Clan is already an army – that’s sort of their whole shtick. The Ninja Turtles are another story all together. They’re a family. Their list of allies is pretty long, but, well – not all of those allies are immediately combat-ready. Lucky for them, The Foot seem hellbent on ridding the city of all other distractions before taking down the three remaining Turtles and their Rat father. What they might not be counting on is just how varied and awesome the Turtles’ friends are. Super scientists? CHECK. Badass brawlers? CHECK. Spies all over the city? CHECK. A potential mutant army, armed to the teeth? CHECK and also CHECK. These teams are moments away from squaring off, and our heroes’ bench is starting to look awesome. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries Villains 6: Hun originally released September 11th, 2013.
Patrick: Redemption. It almost doesn’t matter how far a character has fallen – we want to believe they are capable of evening their karmic score. It’s a powerful idea, one that is almost a more effective motivator for the audience than the reader. We want Darth Vader to toss the Emperor into a bottomless pit because we know it’ll be satisfying to see him come full circle, back to being a hero. Whatever Anakin’s psychology in that moment, we cheer the act because we perceive Vader to be rejecting his inner demons and embracing something better. TMNT Villain Microseries 6: Hun asks us to bear witness to another redemption, but this time, we don’t get to dictate the terms. As Casey Jones’ father rejects one set of demons and gets his life in order, we have to wrestle with a redemption that’s objectively more destructive to himself and his family. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Ethan are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 25, originally released August 28th, 2013.
Taylor: What does “epic” mean to you? Does it mean battles involving thousands of combatants? Does it mean something that lasts a long time? Or maybe it just means a truly huge hamburger? Whatever the word “epic” may mean to you personally, it’s almost certain that you’ve been exposed to it with more frequency in recent years. Ever since the Lord of the Rings came out, people have been thirsting for media that is more epic in scope and publishers and producers have been more than happy to supply them with it. After all, more media means more money, so why not provide the masses with their epic fix? But not all franchises really need or deserve the epic treatment, despite what many fans may think. The Hobbit movies, which will have a final run-time equaling its Lord of the Rings predecessor (speaking of movies here), is evidence of this enough. Considering this, we have to wonder if Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, with its ambitiously sized cast of characters and numerous storylines, can handle the “epic” mantle. The 25th installment of this title seems to give leverage to one side of this argument so this question is: is TMNT epic or not?
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries Villains 5: Karai originally released August 21st, 2013.
Taylor: Here at Retcon-Punch we like to yell about gender issues in comics a lot. While some might find the discussion boring, the fact is there are forces working in comics today that both promote and discourage gender equality. It’s not always the easiest discussion but it’s a necessary one in order for us all to progress in our understanding of how media sometimes perpetuates negative stereotypes. Given this state of affairs, it seems odd that one of our favorite series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so far has remained neutral in this conversation. In truly Swiss fashion, TMNT, has neither done anything to provoke our grief or our praise when it comes to gender issues, and that despite a bevy of female characters. However, one can only stay out of this conversation so long and fifth issue of the TMNT: Villains series finds itself in the Retcon-Punch crosshairs. But is that a good or a bad thing?
Patrick: Because I’m a huge nerd, I was recently in a normal-people social situation and someone asked me who my favorite Ninja Turtle was. In typical Ehlers-style, I laid out a multi-tiered answer: “When I was a kid, Donatello was my favorite, because he was quiet and liked science. As a young adult, I liked Raphael the best — so angsty and complicated. But as an adult-adult, Michelangelo is my favorite.” As I get older, Mikey’s enthusiasm and social skills seem like rarer commodities, and I just respect the hell out of the character. But I sorta surprised myself with how much I feel about all of these characters (enough to claim 75% of them as “my favorite”). I always worry about why it is that I like them all so much — but I think it’s just because they’re stories are fucking great. Issue 24 is no exception. Continue reading