Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 42

tmnt 42

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 42, originally released January 21st, 2015.

Taylor: Politics are a funny thing. Essentially, those who enter the forum are knowingly entering a profession where they will lie and be lied to basically every day of their professional lives. I don’t mean this to condemn — political strategy dictates that one must look out for their own interests at all costs, often times even at the expense of any sort of code of honor. In this way politics mirrors the natural world, for in both cases it’s truly a survival of the fittest endeavor. Given its beastly leanings, it therefore should be no surprise to any of us that Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles would eventually try its hand at a political thriller. Sure, the players in this case are mutants, ninjas, and alien brains, but let there be no mistake: issue 42 is a political thriller of the highest order. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 41

tmnt 41Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 41, originally released December 2014. Patrick: I saw The Expendables when it came out in theatres in 2010. I ended up really enjoying the experience, if only because the flick ends up being a comedy of unintended juxtaposition. Stalone and company think they’re making an uber action movie, but the truth is that Jason Statham movie is not the same genre as a Jet Li movie is not the same genre as Sylvester Stalone movie. It’s a mess that so blindly and courageously moves from one “here’s what’s cool about this guy” scene to the next, with no regard for its own identity. There are also a lot of genres buried in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and while issue 41 has a lot of work to do to step up how all of these pieces will come crashing into each other, the creative team leverages the hilarity of the same kind of juxtaposition The Expendables does. Only, y’know, on purpose. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 40

tmnt 40Today, 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

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 39

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

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 38

tmnt 38Today, 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

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 33

tmnt 33Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 33, originally released April 23, 2014.

Patrick: This series always makes me feel warm and fuzzy about families. While the four brothers all have their differences, it’s clear that their shared strength — both emotional and physical — is greater than the sum of the parts. They struggle, but they also love. Part of the reason I find those relationships so powerful is because I was exposed to them at a very early age, when I was trying to figure out how I fit into a family with my siblings, so it’s been easy to see myself and my sisters in the turtles. I had a pretty healthy family, maybe a little touch too cold and German, but everyone was happy and allowed to be whatever they needed to be. Not all families are so healthy, and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 33 turns it eye towards the most dysfunctional family in the line-up: the Jones’. It’s a heartbreaking look at what happens when support structures fail.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries 8: Shredder

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries 8: Shredder, originally released December 4th, 2013. Taylor: For many things, the magic is in the mystery. Not knowing how a magician sawed that lady in half makes the trick something more than it really is. We all know that the magician isn’t actually cutting a living person in two and putting them back together again. However, we don’t know exactly how they created that illusion and are left to wonder how exactly the trick (or illusion) was pulled off.  This blurs the line between reality and perception and lets the imagination fill in the gaps. Anything is possible in this space and therein lies the beauty of a magic show. Just so, the circumstances surrounding Oroku Saki’s death and rebirth have, up to this point, been shrouded in mystery. It’s been fun speculating just how the turtle’s age old enemy has defied death, but in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries 8: Shredder, we get some definite answers. With the illusion of his rebirth dispelled, it seems that the TMNT universe has lost a little magic of its own.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries Villains 7: Bebop and Rocksteady

bebop rocksteady

Today, Ethan and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries Villains 7: Bebop and Rocksteady originally released October 30th, 2013. 

Ethan: If the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise were a film, it would be a little tricky to say what role Bebop and Rocksteady play. Not quite supporting actors, but more than extras, they fill an interesting niche in that world. They were originally conceived as a way to pack more mutants into the cast in order to sell action figures, but they’ve grown a bit past that, especially now in their own TMNT issue Villain Microseries 7: Bebop and Rocksteady. The story and art by Dustin Weaver and Ben Bates gives us a fresh take on their origins and follows their antics and induction into the Foot Clan, taking us right up to the events of TMNT #27, building out the characters into more than just the comic relief cardboard cutouts we saw in the cartoon series and somehow making them both easier and harder to relate to as we see their friendship and violence enhanced in step. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries Villains 6: Hun

hun 6

Today, Patrick and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries Villains 6: Hun originally released September 11th, 2013. 

Patrick: Redemption. It almost doesn’t matter how far a character has fallen – we want to believe they are capable of evening their karmic score. It’s a powerful idea, one that is almost a more effective motivator for the audience than the reader. We want Darth Vader to toss the Emperor into a bottomless pit because we know it’ll be satisfying to see him come full circle, back to being a hero. Whatever Anakin’s psychology in that moment, we cheer the act because we perceive Vader to be rejecting his inner demons and embracing something better. TMNT Villain Microseries 6: Hun asks us to bear witness to another redemption, but this time, we don’t get to dictate the terms. As Casey Jones’ father rejects one set of demons and gets his life in order, we have to wrestle with a redemption that’s objectively more destructive to himself and his family. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries Villains 5: Karai

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries Villains 5: Karai originally released August 21st, 2013. 

Taylor: Here at Retcon-Punch we like to yell about gender issues in comics a lot. While some might find the discussion boring, the fact is there are forces working in comics today that both promote and discourage gender equality. It’s not always the easiest discussion but it’s a necessary one in order for us all to progress in our understanding of how media sometimes perpetuates negative stereotypes. Given this state of affairs, it seems odd that one of our favorite series, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, so far has remained neutral in this conversation. In truly Swiss fashion, TMNT, has neither done anything to provoke our grief or our praise when it comes to gender issues, and that despite a bevy of female characters. However, one can only stay out of this conversation so long and fifth issue of the TMNT: Villains series finds itself in the Retcon-Punch crosshairs. But is that a good or a bad thing?

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