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

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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

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 64

Alternating Currents: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 64, Taylor and Drew

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 64, originally released November 23rd, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: On any given day I feel like I know the people who are close to me. I know my girlfriend, my friends, and my family in a way that makes me feel like I truly understand them. While this holds true on most days, every so often I am surprised by a sudden thought or action by these people who I thought I knew. Maybe it’s a sudden fit of passion or a change of previously held beliefs, but on occasion I look at the people I know and wonder — who are you? At times like these I’m acutely aware of our inability to truly know another person, and that realization is at once terrifying and exciting. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 64 captures this feeling perfectly, but it comes at the expense of contradicting long established character development. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 62

tmnt-621

Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 62, originally released September 21, 2016. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Patrick: The defining quality of my teenage years was business. And not like, going to an office, wearing a tie and making money, but like busy-ness. I’d be at school from 7:30 to like 3:00, then go to play practice for a couple hours, then play in some ensemble (or practice in the winter) and then I’d do homework in the basement until I feel asleep on AIM. I had written a song about that sensation for my high school ska band (Down In Front, in case you were wondering) called “Someone Else’s Time” so I was at least aware that my schedule was spiraling beyond my control. I’ve been busy since, but I don’t think I’ve ever surrendered my time quite so freely as I did when I was 17. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles seem to be suffering from some of the same fractured focus, but it’s remarkable how well storytellers Tom Waltz, Bobby Curnow, Kevin Eastman and David Wachter compartmentalize each threat tearing at the Turtles. 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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