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

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Unfortunate Allies in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 78

By Patrick Ehlers

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

There are obvious advantages to teamwork. You could argue that that’s one of the defining qualities of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles — they support each other, cover for each other’s weaknesses, and the quartet is stronger for it. But Mike, Leo, Don and Raph are brothers, and have earned the right to trust their eternal alliance through multiple lifetimes of shared experiences. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 78 goes outside our main heroes to explore the possible dangers of teamwork. Continue reading

Best of 2017: Best Issues

Best Issues of 2017

Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2017. Continue reading

Understanding History is Key in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 77

By Taylor Anderson

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 77

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

The past is a powerful thing that both enchants and horrifies. It’s amazing that a simple picture of a familiar place can bring on nostalgia. On the other hand, the past can be misremembered as being better than it was, leading people down a dangerous path to recreate a time and place that never existed. The Triceratons, who haven’t had a home planet for ages, know their history, and unfortunately for Earth, that means they long for a time, the Creatacious period, that they feel is rightfully theirs. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Mogge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76

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

Drew: If there’s a sci-fi equivalent to “boy meets girl…” it might reasonably be “alien race comes in peace, humans react badly.” Where it goes from there depends a great deal on what type of story is being told, but the premise of an earnestly peaceful alien race forced to defend itself against panicky earthlings is full of the kind of themes sci-fi writers love, vilifying the xenophobia and shortsightedness that hold humanity back. Indeed, the human attack on the aliens is so despicable, storytellers have to go out of their way to make the aliens seem somehow suspicious — perhaps they look scary or seem to be keeping some kind of secret from us. That is, while we may come to sympathize with the aliens, there’s often some ambiguity to their intentions. This is decidedly not the case for the Triceratons in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76, whose intentions are clear to everyone — especially the reader — from the moment they arrive on Earth. It sets them up as the unequivocal good guys, allowing Agent Bishop to really cut loose as the issue’s villain. 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

Effectively Establishing a Large Cast of Distinct Characters in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 71

by Spencer Irwin

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

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 71 is a masterclass in quickly establishing an entire group of distinct, memorable characters (seriously, Tom Waltz, Bobby Curnow, Kevin Eastman, Dave Wachter, and Ronda Pattison should be teaching a class on it). This issue has the unenviable task of finally introducing the “Pantheon” in full, but it’s a challenge the creative team tackles with gusto, making each new character immediately distinct, their personalities and relationships with their siblings immediately clear. It not only makes a heaping helping of new information easy to digest, but fun to as well. Continue reading

Family in “Mutant,” Family in “Ninja,” Family in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 70

by Patrick Ehlers

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 70

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

Even though the title of this series may sound like four nonsense words jammed together for maximum silliness, there is a single thru-line that unites all four of them. It’s not immediately evident what that commonality is, but the final issue in the “Desperate Measures” story arc highlights how themes of “family” are relevant to both the Mutant and Ninja parts of our heroes’ lives. They are stronger when they work and fight together, naturally, but their greatest strength is their ability to prioritize that family over everything else. 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 69

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 69, originally released May 3rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: The issue of the turtles secret lair has always bothered me, even as a kid. The turtles live in the sewers of New York which, in theory, need regular maintenance (queue “crappy” job jokes) yet no one seems to ever stumble upon their lair. Pair this with the many times that the turtles have saved the entire freaking city of Manhattan and it becomes ridiculous to think that no one would have ever tried to find them. Issue 69 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles puts my bothers to rest as the Turtles and the military finally come to blows. Predictably, this means nothing good for the Turtles and has far-ranging consequences beyond just this single issue. Continue reading