Taylor: The need for violent force is a topic guaranteed to ignite debate. Some preach it as a necessary evil, while others say its existence in any form is unacceptable. Regardless of your stance on the subject, violence is something every person has to come to terms with in some way or another. Frankly put, we live in a violent world, even if most of us in America never have to confront it directly, and that means coming to terms with some ugly truths of the world. This topic is especially important to comics, a medium that frequently depicts violence. While it’s easy for a series to be circumspect when it comes to confronting violence, TMNT is not in its 61st issue. Instead of backing away from its heroes’ potentially problematic reliance on martial force, it confronts the issue head on.
Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 60, originally released July 27th, 2016.
Taylor: Recently, the Australian DJ group the Avalanches released their second album 16 years after their seminal debut Since I Left You. That this album, Wildflower, was ever released shocked the band’s fans as many expected a follow up never to come. That Wildflower has been well received by fans and critics alike comes as an even bigger surprise to me. Generally speaking, if it takes 16 years to come up new material, that’s not a good thing. Many are the bands who make one good album and then disappear into mediocrity for all time. What I’m hinting at here is that artistic consistency – well, quality consistency – is hard and it’s difficult to churn it out on a regular basis. In that respect, issue 60 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a marvel because like the 59 issues that proceed it, it’s so remarkably good. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 59, originally released June 16th, 2016.
Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter — tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And then one fine morning — So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby
Drew: Symbolism can be a potent tool for any artist, but its easy for a symbol to feel contrived, forcing the audience out of the work. We seek out and create meaning everywhere we look, so there’s no need for a writer to make those symbols too obvious. Curiously, Gatsby’s green light — perhaps the most famous symbol in all of American literature — is explained openly within the text. The reason we don’t reject this explanation as too on-the-nose is that it is Gatsby’s interpretation; that is, he recognizes and interprets the symbolic nature of the green light within his own life. In this way, Fitzgerald isn’t ignoring our ability to create meaning, but celebrating it by giving us a compatriot on the page. We’re looking for meaning, but so is Gatsby. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 59 offers an almost opposite approach to its symbols, emphasizing intention over interpretation, distancing the audience from the text in less-than-flattering ways. Continue reading
Patrick: Iterating on mythology is common practice for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles team. You could even argue that iteration and exploration of the franchise’s mythology is not only something that IDW does incredibly, but is the whole point of the series. There are so many fan favorite characters, stories, locations and details taken from decades of comics, TV shows, movies, video games and action figures, all melded into one gracefully grotesque whole. So what happens when the team iterates on itself, looping back to re-examine a pivotal moment in their own history through a “what if” lens? The result is an insightful look at our heroes, but perhaps more importantly, it shows us just how delicately balanced all that mythology has been over the past five years. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 55, originally released February 24th, 2016.
Taylor: Interpersonal relationships are a hard thing. We’ve all judged and been judged on who we hang out with and the types of relationships we have with these people. Chances are, you’ve wondered why Person X would ever date Person Y or what Person A sees in Group B. The thing is, when you’re in a relationship, it’s hard to see it for what it is. It’s only after things get sufficiently good or sufficiently bad that we finally realize where the relationship stands. Basically, relationships of any type are hard for people. When you’re a mutant though, things are only tougher. Not only do you have your animal instincts to consider, but you have the ever shifting landscape of alliances and double-crosses to consider. TMNT 55 explores the idea of relationships and shows how they sometimes lift you up and sometimes bring you down. Continue reading
Taylor: One of my favorite places to eat at here in Chicago is called Cozy Noodles and Rice. It’s a little Thai place that’s cheap and has robots hanging on the wall. It also has a BYOB policy so it’s not uncommon for my friends and I to bring some beer or wine to enjoy with our meal. Thai food is really flavorful and spicy, however, so often I find that the taste of the alcohol I’m drinking clashes with the taste of the Thai. Separate, they are both delicious. But when combined they just don’t mix well. The lesson I’ve learned from this is the need to cleanse the palate after a heavy meal or thick drink. TMNT 51 is the first issue after the momentous issue 50, and in many ways it acts as a swig of water between two distinct tastes. It prepares us for a brand new turtle adventure while still letting us savor the events which proceeded it.
Taylor: They say that time heals all wounds. Everyone knows that this saying has both a literal and metaphorical meaning. For only time can take the sting away from hurt feelings and only time can mend a broken body. However, time also causes things to fester and decay. Eventually, time kills or destroys all. While the truth of these statements can’t be denied, I think whether a person views time as a destroyer or a healer says a lot about their viewpoint on the world. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 50, a clash of these two viewpoints takes place, and the head-to-head encounter leaves one dead and the other walking into new territory. The result is an issue focused on the past, the future, and the passage of time.
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 49, originally released August 19th, 2015.
“Let’s get ready to rumble!”
-Michael Buffer, Ring Announcer
Patrick: Michael Buffer started using his signature phrase in 1984. It’s short, it’s sweet, and belted out in Buffer’s distinct tenor, it can bring a crowd to their feet. The dude trademarked the phrase in 1992, and since then, he’s gotten paid for every single time it’s used. It’s estimated that the phrase is worth $400 million – that’s $80,000,000 per word. Why should a single sentence — no matter how powerful — ever be worth that kind of money? Because the pageantry involved in the pre-fight ritual ends up being more important that the fight itself. Hype is an art form. No one calls out “let’s get ready to rumble!” in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 49, but the issue is so singularly obsessed with hyping one specific rumble that it’d be easy to forgive the creative team for invoking Buffer’s cash cow. And even though they haven’t: I’m ready.
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 48, originally released July 29th, 2015.
Taylor: Time is hard concept to understand. On the one hand, it’s totally an invention of humankind and wouldn’t exist without us. On the other hand, it does seem like things more or less move temporally in some fashion independent of human thought. That’s basically the second law of thermodynamics. The point is, time is a complicated concept. It should be no surprise then that time can be difficult to illustrate in comics. It’s such an abstract concept that it’s not always easy to show readers. However, one of the things comic book artists are experts at is showing the movement of time in and between panels. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 48, artist Cory Smith puts on a clinic on how to show the passage of time. Subsequently, this issue is beautiful to read.
Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 46, originally released May 28th, 2015.
Taylor: Long form storytelling is all the rage right now. Aside from the occasional sitcom, it’s rare to find a medium where long, syndicated story telling isn’t the norm. While TV shows are a prime example of this trend, podcasts, novels, and even movies are now using multiple installments to tell a grand story. The neat thing about this is that it allows writers and artists to craft a complex story with complex characters that would go unexplored in a shorter format. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, now in its 46th issue, certainly qualifies as a long story and while that may no longer be unique in today’s world, what does stand out about it is just how expertly crafted this grand narrative has been put together. Continue reading