There Are Things Only Comics Can Do in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 20

By Taylor Anderson

This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!

Taylor: Read enough comic books and you eventually begin to take for granted just how magical they can be. This is true of most things in life, whether it be eating pizza or using the internet, but this lesson is especially true for me with comics. When I think about it, the fact that sequential art makes any sort of sense to the human brain — that we can essentially fill in the blanks between panels — is nothing short of amazing. But this isn’t the only unique aspect of comic book making involving paneling, as TMNT Universe 20 so wonderfully demonstrates.

Raph and Alopex are fighting their way out of an evil corporate headquarters that is stealing animals and making them into mutants to be used as weapons. They’re up against Zodi and a new snake-mutant named Krisa, the latter of whom decides to help out our heroes after a speech from Alopex. She does this by taking Zodi hostage in her coils and it’s here that the uniqueness of comic book making asserts itself.

When Raph and Alopex fight their way to releasing the stolen animals, Zodi does her best to convince Krisa to come back to the dark side. These two scenes play out simultaneously in a way that simply can’t be done with text or in a movie. Check it out.

The main attraction on this page is the action scene involving Raph and Alopex so those three panels mostly dominate the page. However, at the same time there are two smaller panels inserted on the left from that scene between Krisa and Zodi. There’s nothing immediately amazing about this, but I find it be stunning. Imagine if this were a movie, and we had this big action scene interspliced with short, two line scenes that don’t involve the primary scene at all. It would be confusing as heck! Similarly, trying to write an action scene with random two sentence interludes would create a bizarre and nearly unreadable story. But here in the realm of comic books, it feels so natural that it’s easy to think nothing of how amazing this is. The reason for this is that the paneling allows me to rest my eyes on each panel and take my time as I read it.

This is fun and cool and serves as a helpful reminder that comics are amazing and a truly unique form of art.

For a complete list of what we’re reading, head on over to our Pull List page. Whenever possible, buy your comics from your local mom and pop comic bookstore. If you want to rock digital copies, head on over to Comixology and download issues there. There’s no need to pirate, right?

One comment on “There Are Things Only Comics Can Do in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 20

  1. Is it really something only comics can do? The interweaving of two contrasting scenes is a pretty typical strategy, used everywhere. Hell, I just finished reading a novel that managed to frequently splice two sentence conversations taking place elsewhere in the middle of massive battle sequences. And it is even easier in film.

    What is more interesting is how the interweaving is done. How the use of panel size creates something that film can’t replicate (even changing aspect ratios wouldn’t help), contrasting the intimacy of one scene with the epicness of another just through panel size (though literature can do that with paragraph size).

    More interestingly is how the panels are designed so that the battlenis continuous. Every battle scene is above a panel of the battle, and the conversation never creates a break fromnthe narrative. What you have is a page where your eye sees both the conversation And the battle at the same time, and therefore you see it similtaeously and see the events happen similtaeously. Which film and literature can’t do, because they are forever constrained by the necessity to have a strict order. They can only focus on one event at a time, a comic can have us focus on two.

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