Today, 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
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
Today, 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
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
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.
The comics industry might have trained us incorrectly. We’re meant to gobble up as much story as possible, as quickly as possible. That way we buy more comics, and Batman and Spider-Man can continue to punch dudes into perpetuity. But the books we read are far from disposable — they contain some truly astounding artwork from some of the most talented storytellers out there. They’re our directors, our actors, our choreographers, our set and costume designers. These are our top 13 artists of 2013. Continue reading
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, Taylor and Scott are discussing Zero 3, originally released November 20th, 2013.
Taylor: Tell you what, reading a Cormac McCarthy novel is a chore. This is by no means a criticism, merely an observation. I think anyone who has read any book by McCarthy would agree with me – the guy writes some pretty bleak stuff. Despite that, his writing is some of the most important to grace the written page in the past fifty years. He’s a master at his craft and his style and voice are so unique that one could argue they have become iconic. Still, reading the likes of Blood Meridian or The Road is far from a pleasant way to pass the time. These books are beautiful in their own way, but they are equally violent and incredibly depressing. Given this, it seems fitting that the afterward of Zero 3 quotes a passage from Blood Meridian. Like McCarthy’s work, Zero is bloody and disturbing, but also like McCarthy’s work it is thought provoking and occasionally beautiful.
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