Understanding History is Key in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 77

By Taylor Anderson

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 77

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

The past is a powerful thing that both enchants and horrifies. It’s amazing that a simple picture of a familiar place can bring on nostalgia. On the other hand, the past can be misremembered as being better than it was, leading people down a dangerous path to recreate a time and place that never existed. The Triceratons, who haven’t had a home planet for ages, know their history, and unfortunately for Earth, that means they long for a time, the Creatacious period, that they feel is rightfully theirs. Continue reading

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Eleanor and the Egret 5: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Patrick Ehlers

Eleanor and the Egret 5

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

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Drew: What moral do we take away from heroic self-sacrifice? We undoubtedly see nobility in a hero prizing the life and safety of others more than their own, but our own takeaway is likely much more modest — we might sacrifice our material comfort or time for the benefit of others, if not our lives. But is “self-sacrifice is good” the only way to look at those stories? Is it possible to look at a hero laying down their life for others and identify with those others — not the hero making the sacrifice, but the beneficiaries of that sacrifice? Is it possible that we see the hero’s death less as a noble choice and more as satisfying a cosmic need for heroes to die — a “sacrifice” in a very different sense of the word? It’s the kind of conclusion you might expect of a world-ending sci-fi computer to draw, but it’s also embedded in the idiosyncratic resolution of John Layman and Sam Kieth’s Eleanor and the Egret. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76: Discussion

By Drew Baumgartner and Ryan Mogge

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76

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

Drew: If there’s a sci-fi equivalent to “boy meets girl…” it might reasonably be “alien race comes in peace, humans react badly.” Where it goes from there depends a great deal on what type of story is being told, but the premise of an earnestly peaceful alien race forced to defend itself against panicky earthlings is full of the kind of themes sci-fi writers love, vilifying the xenophobia and shortsightedness that hold humanity back. Indeed, the human attack on the aliens is so despicable, storytellers have to go out of their way to make the aliens seem somehow suspicious — perhaps they look scary or seem to be keeping some kind of secret from us. That is, while we may come to sympathize with the aliens, there’s often some ambiguity to their intentions. This is decidedly not the case for the Triceratons in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 76, whose intentions are clear to everyone — especially the reader — from the moment they arrive on Earth. It sets them up as the unequivocal good guys, allowing Agent Bishop to really cut loose as the issue’s villain. Continue reading

Surprises in the Details of Eleanor and the Egret 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Eleanor and the Egret 4

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

We call this story “Man in Hole,” but it needn’t be about a man and it needn’t be about somebody getting into a hole — it’s just a good way to remember it: Somebody gets into trouble and gets out of it again. People love that story. They never get sick of it.

Kurt Vonnegut

I’ve always been attracted to the kind of abstract narrative shapes Vonnegut famously catalogued in his Master’s Thesis — there’s something fascinating at the thought that virtually all stories draw from a narrow range of narrative trajectories. But, of course, looking at narratives in such an abstract way overlooks a lot of the texture and details that actually makes stories so thrilling in the first place. That is, while we might take it for a given that the man gets out of the whole, we can still be surprised at exactly how that happens. Those details are what distinguishes one narrative from another, yet even then, they can often feel rote and predictable. Not so with Eleanor and the Egret 4, which uses the cartoon logic of its high-concept premise to deliver some truly unexpected twists. Continue reading

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

Explaining the Absurd in Eleanor and the Egret 3

by Drew Baumgartner

Eleanor and the Egret 3

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

One of my favorite Loony Tunes premises was that of “Ralph Wolf and Sam Sheepdog,” the rival canines attempting to eat/protect a herd of sheep, respectively. Those cartoons are full of all of the great slapstick and expressions that make classic Chuck Jones cartoons such a pleasure, but by favorite gag is that, at the start and end of the day, Ralph and Sam punch their timecards — they’re just doing their jobs. Any other adversarial relationship in Loony Tunes, whether it’s Elmer Fudd and Bugs, Sylvester and Tweetie, or the (similarly designed) Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner, needs no further explanation; the motivations of the characters are enough to carry the gags. Ralph and Sam, though, have a reason beyond their apparent animal natures, something that tilts at the nonsensical task of explaining the cartoon logic of these characters. It somehow grounds them in reality while simultaneously heightening the absurdity of the situations they’re in. Eleanor and the Egret has always reveled in its own kind of absurdity, but issue 3 starts to reveal Eleanor’s backstory, hinting at some human emotions at the core of this cartoony world. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 69

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 69, originally released May 3rd, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Taylor: The issue of the turtles secret lair has always bothered me, even as a kid. The turtles live in the sewers of New York which, in theory, need regular maintenance (queue “crappy” job jokes) yet no one seems to ever stumble upon their lair. Pair this with the many times that the turtles have saved the entire freaking city of Manhattan and it becomes ridiculous to think that no one would have ever tried to find them. Issue 69 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles puts my bothers to rest as the Turtles and the military finally come to blows. Predictably, this means nothing good for the Turtles and has far-ranging consequences beyond just this single issue. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 66

Alternating Currents: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 66, Drew and Taylor

Today, Drew and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 66, originally released January 25th, 2017. As always, this article contains SPOILERS.

Drew: I’ve always been impressed at the way IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles manages to balance the “Teenage” elements against the more sensational “Mutant” and “Ninja” ones. There are obvious advantages to this approach — it lends depth to the Turtles’ characterizations and offers more variety to the kinds of stories they fit in to — but the more I think about it, the more I appreciate that the classic teen obsession with identity and labels are built into their collective monicker. That their title is so verbose has always been a source for humor, but it also plants the seeds for real tensions in their sense of identity — or, at least an emphasis on the adjectives and nouns they associate with that identity. Indeed, issue 66 focuses almost entirely on the identities of its cast, forcing them to ask both what those identities are, and what they might say about what they can or can’t do. 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

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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