Today, 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
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
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
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
Drew: Last month, Patrick laid out the difference between time travel narratives that amount to fish-out-of-water stories and those that are actually about time travel — that is, those where the actions and repercussions of time travel are the point of the story. Turtles in Time 1 fell squarely into the first category, basically giving the Turtles an excuse to run around with dinosaurs for a while. It’s certainly a noble endeavor (and darn successful — we loved the heck out of that issue), but for a mini-series titled Turtles in Time, it seems only natural that the focus should shift back to the time travel itself, bringing all the concerns of causation and the space-time continuum to the fore as the Turtles encounter themselves pre-reincarnation in feudal Japan. Continue reading
Patrick: I’ve always considered Back to the Future Part II to the be only movie in the series that’s really about time travel. The first movie is kind of a send up of the ’50s (through the eyes of ’80s, all of which is hilarious in the ’10s), and the third one a fish-out-of-water cowboy story. It’s only really in the second film that the consequences of time travel become the subject of the story, and not just the result of the story. This isn’t a knock against the other flicks at all — you should never underestimate how much fun it is to put characters in a time which they don’t belong. Free from any worries about paradoxes and time-loops, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles in Time sets out to simply have fun plugging the iconic characters into a history that has no place for them. And holy shit, is it fun. 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.
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.