Peace is Hard-Won in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 21

By Taylor Anderson

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

Yesterday, surprising news broke that the Trump administration had secret meetings with North Korea and that it now intends to engage the estranged country in peace talks. This comes as a particular shock because it was not too long ago that Trump and Kim Jong-un were exchanging insults, the likes of which caused the Doomsday clock to tick forward in anticipation of some sort of nuclear incident. It’s hard to say whether these talks will actually take place, or, if they do, if they’ll be productive at all given the disposition of the two leaders involved. But should it happen, it will be peace hard-won, just like the peace between the Triceratons and Utroms in TMNT Universe 21. Continue reading

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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. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 19: Discussion

By Taylor Anderson and Drew Baumgartner

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

Ninja: noun \  nin·ja  \ ˈnin-jə \ a person trained in ancient Japanese martial arts and employed especially for espionage and assassinations

Taylor: After all the numerous battles the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been through, it’s become easy to forget one fourth of their namesake. No, it’s not that they’re teenagers — Raphael’s temper and Michelangelo’s lightheartedness remind us of that every issue. The part of their name that’s easy to forget, rather, is the “ninja.” Even though each turtle knows ninjitsu and uses shurikens, they frequently eschew one of the fundamental traits of being ninja — stealth — and this makes them more akin to warriors than ninja. So what happens when they’re called out on not being the thing they were trained to become since birth? Continue reading

Is That Chris Ware in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 18?

by Taylor Anderson

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

Chances are, if you’ve ever shown an interest in comics or graphic novels, you’ve come across Chris Ware’s work. In some ways, it could be argued that he’s America’s most well-known comic artist, given his widespread acclaim and the fact that his work frequently shows up in places like the New Yorker. However, one place I’d never expect to see his work is in a Teenage Mustant Ninja Turtles issue, but lo and behold: issue 18 of TMNT Universe. Continue reading

The Mystery of Triceraton Humanity in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 16

by Patrick Ehlers

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

In the main TMNT series, the newly freed Triceratons have returned to Earth after millennia of servitude to the Utrom Empire. For a hulking army of dinosaur-men, they make first contact in a surprisingly sensitive way. Their ultimate aim may be to re-claim the planet, and they go in bearing axes and laser blasters, but they make an attempt as peaceful, civil discourse first. Where does that come from? If you tried to string together the most monstrous series of adjectives possible, you’d end up hitting some prime Triceraton descriptors: cloned, warrior, prehistoric, dinosaur. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 16 writer Chris Mowry and Giannis Milonogiannis find the humanity within these beasts reveling in the mystery of their origins. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 15: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 15

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

Drew: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have always been the perfect outcasts in a medium made for outcasts. Well, saying that comics were “made” for outcasts isn’t entirely accurate, but it certainly had become a medium for outcasts — at least in the US — by the time the turtles were invented in the 1980s. We don’t really need to get into the causality of why comics fandom was perceived as a weird thing — the point is that it was. And in the age before the internet, someone with a “weird” hobby or enthusiasm for some obscure piece of pop culture might not know anyone else like themselves. While the rest of the world could connect over their religion, political party, or even local sports team, the average comics reader in 1984 might not have had anyone they knew who shared their interest. I don’t bring this up to pity the lot of the poor comics fan — heaven knows plenty of people were more isolated and actively persecuted — just to say that themes of not fitting in have always been an essential part of the TMNT makeup. This is a point that Erik Burnham and Sophie Campbell clearly understand, as their Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe finds several characters seeking their place in the world. Continue reading

Focus is a Strength in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 14

by Ryan Mogge

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

In real life, people who exhibit single-mindedness can be a bore. In fiction, that same behavior can work as a backdrop for more entertaining action. Erik Burnham and Sophie Campbell present two storylines in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 14, each with a woman at the center who provides the story’s drive if not its color. This is not a negative thing, Karai and Natsu both demonstrate a sense of purpose and commitment that pushes the story forward while also challenging the world around them to make room. Continue reading

The Visual Language of History and Myth in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 13

by Patrick Ehlers

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

When we talk about character perspectives, we’re usually referring to lens crafted by their specific values, experiences, passions, fears — their view on the world. It is telling that I’m not able truly able to define perspective without using two different metaphors for perception (“lens” and “view”). Sophie Campbell and Erik Burnham’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 13 continues to explore Karai’s perspective, presenting it almost entirely visually, letting the reader draw their own cultural connections. Continue reading

Action is Character in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 12

by Patrick Ehlers

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

For a character we’ve been hanging out with for like 60 issues, we don’t know an awful lot about Karai. She is the fiercely loyal Chunin of Oroku Saki’s Foot Clan, solely responsible for both the clan and its leader coming back to life in the 21st century. She’s a character of constant struggle, and she has an adversarial relationship with everyone. Erik Burnham and Sophie Campbell’s first chapter in Karai’s post-New York saga starts with circumstantial violence, and escalates it into meaningful scheming and action — and Karai is the merciless engine behind all of it. Continue reading

Weekly Round-Up: Comics Released 3/22/17

Look, there are a lot of comics out there. Too many. We can never hope to have in-depth conversations about all of them. But, we sure can round up some of the more noteworthy titles we didn’t get around to from the week. Today, we discuss Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 68, Lumberjanes 36, Curse Words 3, Descender 20 and Reborn 5. Also, we’re discussing X-O Manowar 1 on Tuesday and Bloodshot Reborn 1 on Wednesday, so check those out! As always, this article contains SPOILERS. Continue reading