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.
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
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 29, originally released December 18th, 2013.
Taylor: Despite its dubious reputation, the 1990 live action Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles film is actually a pretty good movie. While some see it simply as a cash cow (which, it also certainly was), it also has a good amount of heart and depth. Midway through the movie, the turtles get pretty beat up by the Foot Clan and Master Splinter is captured. The turtles retreat to April’s farmhouse and while there, they heal and experience a spiritual and meaningful growth. They learn to function better as a team and dig into the depths of their beings and find what it is that makes them special. This is the climax of the movie. These scenes are where the turtles come into their own and turn the corner and realize they must and can defeat Shredder. With this in mind, it’s exciting to see the TMNT series move its focus to April’s farm. In the wake of City Fall, what can the turtles learn? What must they learn in order to survive as a force for good and family? 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