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

Challenges Posed by Starting in the Middle in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 72

by Ryan Mogge

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

When a story opens in media res, it’s a promise in two parts. First, the audience is given a glimpse at the excitement of the climax, a bit of a tease for when is it to come. The second and more tricky element is that by opening up at that point and then going back, the writer is telling us that the story of how they got there is somehow as interesting as what is to come. Often, there is a heavy layer of dramatic irony on the proceedings (preceedings?), characters laying out boundaries that we know they will cross, assurances of “what could go wrong?” when we have the exact answer, etc. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 72, the “Before.” section is more of a recap and road map, making it feel superfluous.
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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

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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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

Best of 2015: Best Issues

best issues 2015
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 2015. Continue reading