Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 81: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Taylor Anderson

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 81

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

Drew: Homicidal mutants. Power-hungry ninja clan leaders. Aliens bent on world domination. The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise has had a ton of villains over the years, but they all tend to share one thing in common: obvious evilness. IDW’s incarnation has done a great deal to complicate and question the morals and perspectives of those familiar villains, but never so much to make the Turtles frame the choices of their adversaries as “misguided.” Which is precisely why Splinter’s slow heel turn has added so much depth to the series. It’s fine for the Turtles to be battling an evil, cackling warmonger when they’re appearing on a Saturday morning cartoon, but in this age where people seem to believe there are “very good people on both sides” of every argument, we may need more nuanced depictions of evil. The road to Hell, they say, is paved with good intentions, which is all anyone seems to have in this series at the moment. You know, besides the Rat King. 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

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 50

tmnt 50

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 50, originally released October 10th, 2015.

Taylor: They say that time heals all wounds. Everyone knows that this saying has both a literal and metaphorical meaning. For only time can take the sting away from hurt feelings and only time can mend a broken body. However, time also causes things to fester and decay. Eventually, time kills or destroys all. While the truth of these statements can’t be denied, I think whether a person views time as a destroyer or a healer says a lot about their viewpoint on the world. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 50, a clash of these two viewpoints takes place, and the head-to-head encounter leaves one dead and the other walking into new territory. The result is an issue focused on the past, the future, and the passage of time.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 49

tmnt 49

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 49, originally released August 19th, 2015.

“Let’s get ready to rumble!”

-Michael Buffer, Ring Announcer

Patrick: Michael Buffer started using his signature phrase in 1984. It’s short, it’s sweet, and belted out in Buffer’s distinct tenor, it can bring a crowd to their feet. The dude trademarked the phrase in 1992, and since then, he’s gotten paid for every single time it’s used. It’s estimated that the phrase is worth $400 million – that’s $80,000,000 per word. Why should a single sentence — no matter how powerful — ever be worth that kind of money? Because the pageantry involved in the pre-fight ritual ends up being more important that the fight itself. Hype is an art form. No one calls out “let’s get ready to rumble!” in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 49, but the issue is so singularly obsessed with hyping one specific rumble that it’d be easy to forgive the creative team for invoking Buffer’s cash cow. And even though they haven’t: I’m ready.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 48

tmnt 48

Today, Taylor and Spencer are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 48, originally released July 29th, 2015.

Taylor: Time is hard concept to understand. On the one hand, it’s totally an invention of humankind and wouldn’t exist without us. On the other hand, it does seem like things more or less move temporally in some fashion independent of human thought. That’s basically the second law of thermodynamics. The point is, time is a complicated concept. It should be no surprise then that time can be difficult to illustrate in comics. It’s such an abstract concept that it’s not always easy to show readers. However, one of the things comic book artists are experts at is showing the movement of time in and between panels. In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 48, artist Cory Smith puts on a clinic on how to show the passage of time. Subsequently, this issue is beautiful to read.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 2

tmnt casey & april 2

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 2, originally released July 22nd, 2015.

Taylor: Last summer’s Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie met with lukewarm reviews. There were a lot of reasons cited by critics for the movie not being great, but the one thing that was almost universally harped upon was the confusing nature of the action sequences. Bay aficionados, however, were not surprised by this: chaos is one of his trademarks. What this goes to show is that clarity is incredibly important when crafting a story. It makes sense – if the audience can’t understand what’s going on, how are they supposed to take anything from it? Casey and April 2 is an interesting study in clarity: how it succeeds, how it fails, and how it succeeds despite its failings.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 1

tmnt casey & april 1

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 1, originally released June 17th, 2015.

Taylor: When you’re in a relationship with someone for a long time, it’s inevitable that you and your partner will eventually get into a tiff. Sometimes this might be precipitated by a single event and sometimes it’s the culmination of a lot of little things that have added up over time. In either case: you’re heading into an awkward situation. You’re upset with your significant other, but given the nature of your relationship you may end up spending time together anyway. Moments like this have a habit of happening in the car — where you have no choice but to stay together and fume. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Casey & April 1 throws us into just such a situation and we’re forced to consider just how good of a couple April and Casey really are. Continue reading