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

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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

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 10

Today, Spencer and Ryan M. are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 10, originally released May 24th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Spencer: We live in a world with more distractions than ever. It’s easy to see why — in a world as tumultuous, unjust, and downright screwed up as the one we’re all stuck with today, people need distractions (be they media, parties, sports, etc.) in order to retain their sanity. Too many distractions, though, can have the opposite effect, clouding our judgment and obscuring who we truly are. Some even use these distractions as a form of self-medication, trying to run from problems that are only going to get worse if not faced. Sophie Campbell, Bobby Curnow, and Pablo Tunica’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 10 explores both those situations, helping its heroes find strength in what’s real, not glamorous, excessive distractions. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 9

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 9, originally released April 26th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: When news broke a little while ago that Hayao Miyazaki was coming out of retirement to make a new movie, people were understandably excited. Miyazaki’s movies have developed a cult-like following over the years, and the promise of new material is sure to arouse the interest of even the most casual Miyazaki fan. Part of what draws people to Miyazaki’s work is the beautiful animation in each film, but perhaps a bigger draw is the surreal, fairy tale world Miyazaki creates in each of his stories. These worlds are often dark, weird, mysterious and funny, so it’s easy to see why we are enchanted by them time and time again. TMNT Universe 9 almost certainly takes some cues from Miyazaki films, and does it so damn well that the issue is just as enthralling as any film put out by the legendary master.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 66

Alternating Currents: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 66, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 66, originally released January 25th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: I’ve always been impressed at the way IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles manages to balance the “Teenage” elements against the more sensational “Mutant” and “Ninja” ones. There are obvious advantages to this approach — it lends depth to the Turtles’ characterizations and offers more variety to the kinds of stories they fit in to — but the more I think about it, the more I appreciate that the classic teen obsession with identity and labels are built into their collective monicker. That their title is so verbose has always been a source for humor, but it also plants the seeds for real tensions in their sense of identity — or, at least an emphasis on the adjectives and nouns they associate with that identity. Indeed, issue 66 focuses almost entirely on the identities of its cast, forcing them to ask both what those identities are, and what they might say about what they can or can’t do. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 61

tmnt 61

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 61, originally released August 24th, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

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.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 60

tmnt 60

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

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 59

Alternating Currents: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 59, Drew and Patrick

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

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deviations 1

tmnt deviations

Today, Patrick and Taylor Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deviations 1, originally released March 30th, 2015.

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

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 55

tmnt 55

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