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

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

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

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.

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

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 56

tmnt 56

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 56, originally released March 23rd, 2015.

Patrick: I love the first two-thirds of most horror movies. That’s where the filmmakers have to establish an honest sense of both danger and mystery. That’ll all presumably pay-off in the final act, but it’s sort of remarkable how much more engaging the set up has to be than the pay off. Honestly, by the time a horror flick gets to that pay-off, you’re lucky if the characters do anything more than scream, run and die. So that tension must be expertly wound in order to make that climax mean anything. If you were to watch it in isolation, that scene of Ripley strapping herself in to blow the Alien out the airlock can be slow and almost drama-less. But after two hours of steadily unspooled threats and a growing list of unnerving questions, the scene is masterpiece of suspense. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 56 finds our storytellers quietly gathering those questions, slowly bringing its internal mystery to a fever pitch. Continue reading