Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Macro Series: Michelangelo 1

by Patrick Ehlers and Spencer Irwin

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

Patrick: I love the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, but part of that love comes from my now-decades-long exposure to them. I can look at any one of these four brothers and see a multifaceted, well-rounded character. This is in spite of the fact that they were introduced to me in a cartoon theme song that was content with describing Raphael as “cool, but rude.” And, to be fair, they can be tremendously fun characters, even when boiled down to archetypes. With that in mind, it’s fascinating to see how writer Ian Flynnn and artist Michael Dialynas craft a story the requires our hero to be so much more than a party dude. Continue reading

Finding Another Way in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80

By Spencer Irwin

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

Of the many crimes The Man of Steel committed against Superman, its greatest was having him snap Zod’s neck at the end of the film. Superman is a hero who not only doesn’t kill, but who is always supposed to find another way, a better way, to deal with his problems. Forcing him into a situation where his only option is to kill not only shows a grave misunderstanding of the character, but a lack of imagination on the part of the writers. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 80 places Splinter in the role of Man of Steel‘s Superman, the “hero” who believes he has no choice but to kill, but the Turtles have to believe they can find another way to deal with the Triceratons. Writers Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, and Tom Waltz reveal their priorities to be in line with the Turtles’ when they unveil that better way. Continue reading

Learning Your Parents Aren’t Perfect in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 79

By Taylor Anderson

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

When I was 15 my parents got a divorce, which, in so many words, sucked. I’m not going to bore you with all the details of my emotional state at that time, but one important and hard lesson I learned is that my parents aren’t perfect. The splitting up of a family is difficult and makes for ripe pickings for acknowledging the shortcomings of your loved ones. That being said, this lesson isn’t unique to me or other people whose parents have split. At some point, most children realize that their parents aren’t perfect and that they are indeed very flawed, just like we all are. This lesson is tough, but as Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 79 shows, acknowledging it is a key step in the maturation process. Continue reading

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

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

Action is Character in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe 12

by Patrick Ehlers

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

For a character we’ve been hanging out with for like 60 issues, we don’t know an awful lot about Karai. She is the fiercely loyal Chunin of Oroku Saki’s Foot Clan, solely responsible for both the clan and its leader coming back to life in the 21st century. She’s a character of constant struggle, and she has an adversarial relationship with everyone. Erik Burnham and Sophie Campbell’s first chapter in Karai’s post-New York saga starts with circumstantial violence, and escalates it into meaningful scheming and action — and Karai is the merciless engine behind all of it. 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 54

tmnt 54

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 54, originally released January 27th, 2016.

black and white

Spencer: Telling someone they see things in black and white is practically tantamount to calling them childish. The general idea is that as people grow up, the world and the decisions they have to make in it become more ethically gray, and trying to hold onto clear definitions of “good” and “evil” in the light of that is futile. Of course, when confronted with that line of reasoning many respond just as Calvin did in the strip above — they claim that sometimes things really are that simple! In essence, this is the argument that dominates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 54, where the Mutanimals nearly splinter over the discovery of Old Hob and Hun’s alliance. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 53

tmnt 53

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 53, originally released December 23rd, 2015.

Taylor: One of the quintessential experiences of growing up is undergoing the trial of being picked for a team. Often times this happens on the playground at recess or even in gym class. Two captains (usually the biggest kids in class) are chosen to head teams and tasked with choosing which classmates they want to join their side. The captains take turns choosing from the class, each taking his or her turn and selecting the students who are best at sports first and the kids who are worst last. Being the last kid chosen for a team was a special sort of shame. You are branded in front of everyone as being inferior and essentially a cast-off. Almost everyone has experienced this minor trauma at some point, and for that reason, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 53  resonates with me. It explores what it means to be a cast-off, and in the process also asks what it means to be accepted by others. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 51

tmnt 51

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 51, originally released October 28th, 2015.

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.

Continue reading