Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 40, originally released November 26th, 2014. Patrick: They started out as a joke — an answer to the dare “what’s the weirdest thing you can draw?” A mutant turtle that’s also a ninja, and what the hell, let’s make him a teenager just to layer on the strangeness. “Mutant” and “teenage” made them marketable, but it’s the absurd combination of “ninja” and “turtle” that always stuck in my brain. It just doesn’t make sense: why would a turtle ever be agile and stealthy? They’re bulky, presumably sorta heavy and shouldn’t even have the fingers necessary to grip a katana. That contradiction ends up imbuing the characters with both weight and speed simultaneously, and one of the great pleasures of IDW’s run on TMNT is watching different artists try to capture the sheer momentum that these four brothers represent. Issue 40 is a tour de forces-at-motion-staying-in-motion for Mateus Santolouco, who delivers page after page of stunningly realized action. It may be a brawl between a dozen mutants, but the physicality is so present and so vibrant, believing the insane action is only natural. Continue reading
Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 39, originally released October 15th, 2014. Taylor: Whenever we think about the 1950’s we inevitably think about the Cold War between Russia and the USA. The Space Race and a setting for alternate histories aside, the Cold War did little for either country. In the USA, fear of communism ran amok to such an extent that senators were able to persecute people on mere suspicion. In the USSR, money was spent so much on military and the like that the basic needs of many citizens were forgotten. In both cases there is a strong lesson to be learned: don’t let fear dominate your decision making. Despite these warnings, people continue to make this same mistake over and over again. In TMNT 38, we see that even the very wise and powerful are susceptible to the pull of fear. The question is, when they succumb to it, just what are the consequences? Continue reading
Today, Drew and Spencer are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 38, originally released October 1st, 2014. Drew: Back when I was a teen, I used to fight with my parents about everything. It’s embarrassing to think about now, but at the time, nothing in the world seemed fair to me. It didn’t matter how petty it was — from mowing the lawn to cleaning up my room — everything was worth the fight, though none of it ultimately mattered that much to anyone involved. The Turtles decidedly do not fall into that pattern — their loyalty to Splinter is admirable, if a bit unusual from a bunch of teenagers — but issue 38 finds them disagreeing about big decisions that effect all of them. It’s a classic turtles story that we’ve seen time and time again with one important change: this time, the dissenting brother isn’t Raph. Continue reading
Today, Drew and Patrick are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 37, originally released August 13, 2014. Drew: By the time I was watching the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles cartoon, it was already airing in syndication 5 days a week. That was awesome for the part of me that wanted to see sweet ninja turtle action on a regular basis, but decidedly less awesome for whatever part of me was supposed to learn patience. I could wait exactly one day between episodes, but no more. Indeed, I didn’t even have patience for scenes on the show that didn’t feature the turtles (to my credit, they almost never ordered pizza at the technodrome), so the finer points of plotting were often lost on me. Intrepid youtubers have aimed to rectify my ignorance, compiling all of Shredder’s scenes with Krang into bite-sized videos, but life has offered a much more fulfilling second chance in the form of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 37, which focuses exclusively on Shredder and Krang’s first (er, second) meeting. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Utrom Empire 1, originally released January 22nd, 2014.
Patrick: Leadership is the damnedest thing. Unless the people you’re leading believe or value the same things you value, everything falls apart. Hearts and minds, right? Without ideological unity, imperialism fails. These are the kinds of thoughts that didn’t bother 9 year old Patrick — nor should they have — so I never considered the tenuous position Krang finds himself in constantly: fighting for an empire that no one even seems to give a shit about. In Paul Allor and Andy Kuhn’s Utrom Empire, Krang’s authority is tested at every turn, and the abstract concept of the “Utrom Empire” starts to take the mythical shape of a force bigger than any one character’s ambition. It’s about fear, it’s about power, it’s about survival. Continue reading
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 23, originally released June 26th, 2013.
Patrick: One of the most beautiful things about IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series is the relationship it has with the franchise’s past. And that’s an insane past. TMNT have been rebooted and re-imagined so many times in their 30-year history, there’s really no such thing as a definitive take on the characters. You’ll never be able to get two TMNT fans to agree on what constitutes canon for them – there are just too many movies, video games, comics, television shows and elaborately staged action-figure set-pieces played out on my bedroom floor. More than Superman, more than Wolverine, who these characters are at their core is left to the individual reader. The second issue of CityFall takes that concept of subjective history and makes it arrestingly explicit as Leonardo is forced to recontextualize the adventures we’ve been reading for the last two years. Continue reading
Taylor: The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have a lot of descriptors in their name. While it’s always easy to remember that they are turtles and ninjas, it’s a little harder to remember that they are teenagers. I’m not sure what to attribute this forgetfulness to. Maybe it’s because most superheroes are in their 20s or 30s. Or maybe it’s because it’s hard to guess the age of a half man/half turtle based solely on appearance. I don’t know. Whatever the reason is, it’s easy to overlook the fact that the turtles have to deal with some heavy shit on a regular basis. While your average teen worries about school and sex, the turtles have to worry about ninja battles and saving the earth from an evil, alien brain. It’s not exactly a fair shake and given the circumstances it seems like only a matter of time before those hormones (turtle or otherwise) and inexperience kick in and hurt our half-shelled heroes. Issue 22 of TMNT begins the City Fall event and with it we see our turtles being challenged in new ways and asked to achieve things beyond their years. But are they up to the task?
Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries Villains 2: Baxter Stockman originally released May 22nd, 2013.
Patrick: One of my persistent questions about Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles has been “why would Baxter Stockman put up with Krang’s bullshit?” After all, regardless of what he could offer, Krang’s ultimate goal is the destruction of the human race. Psst! Baxter, you’re one of those humans. There’s a bully component to their relationship, but Stockman also has this too-cool-for-school attitude, seemingly above intimidation. So why would he work so hard toward the completion of the technodrome? Same reason he does anything: because there’s something in it for him.
Today, Patrick and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries Villains 1: Krang, originally released April 17th, 2013.
Patrick: To the best of my recollection, the original TMNT action figure line contained two basic Krang toys. The first was Krang in his battle armor — it was like double the size of a regular action figure and cost about three times as much. The second was a weird minimalist walker-thing that he rode around in. I had the latter, because I was never patient enough to save up for the big one. As a kid, I knew I had the shittier toy: I wanted that big robot — the scary one that would send the Turtles running. While I technically had the character right there, I never felt like I had Krang. What good is a squishy little brain monster without his killer-robot-suit? Writer Joshua Williamson answers that question by arming Krang with the most tenacious agency usually reserved for survival fiction.
Patrick: I’m a realist. I believe in that which we can observe and measure and quantify. I don’t like the term ‘atheist’ because it defines my beliefs in terms of what I don’t believe (i.e., God). But I also don’t like the term ‘skeptic’ because it implies that there’s some force of will out there in the universe trying to convince me that one reality is true, but I’m just to wily to fall for its tricks. Fiction has a habit of shitting on skeptics – the instant you meet the non-religious scientist in a movie that says “… but that’d be impossible,” you know that whatever he just said is SO TOTALLY GOING TO HAPPEN. God, ghosts, magic, you name it – they all end up being real in the third act (unless you’re talking Scooby-Doo, then all bets are off). Donatello has served as this voice of skeptic dissent throughout IDW’s run of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. While reincarnation makes for an interesting story about turtle ninjas, I never liked that Donny’s doubt would have to be somehow wrong-headed. Amid all the bombast of climactic interdimensional warfare, Donny gets an answer that is astonishingly satisfying, both to him and to me.