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

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

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

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

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Usagi Yojimbo 1: Discussion

by Patrick Ehlers and Spencer Irwin

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

I grew up in Europe — where the history comes from. Oh yeah. You tear your history down man: “30 years old? Let’s tear it down and build a car park here.” I have seen it in stories — I saw a program on something in Miami. They said “we’ve redecorated this building to how it looked over 50 years ago!” People going: “No! Surely not, no! No one was alive then!”

Eddie Izzard, Dressed To Kill

Patrick: One of the things we here at Retcon Punch find so impressive about IDW’s run with the Ninja Turtle series is the storytelling team’s commitment to remixing, recontextualizing, and reimagining the franchise’s immense history. Tom Waltz, Bobby Curnow, Kevin Eastman and a murders row of artists and writers have been pulling in influences from over thirty years of comics, TV shows, movies, video games, action figures, music videos, stage shows — you name it. It’s an impressive feat, but is also an exercise that rings weirdly hollow when compared to what Stan Sakai has always done with Usagi Yojimbo. The Long-Eared Samurai has been the protagonist in remixed stories from Japanese folklore for decades — literally as long as the TMNT have been around. With this latest crossover, Sakai again proves he is the king of narrative remix, reaching back way further than 1984 for his source material. 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 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 60

tmnt 60

Today, Taylor and Patrick are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 60, originally released July 27th, 2016.

Taylor: Recently, the Australian DJ group the Avalanches released their second album 16 years after their seminal debut Since I Left You. That this album, Wildflower, was ever released shocked the band’s fans as many expected a follow up never to come. That Wildflower has been well received by fans and critics alike comes as an even bigger surprise to me. Generally speaking, if it takes 16 years to come up new material, that’s not a good thing. Many are the bands who make one good album and then disappear into mediocrity for all time. What I’m hinting at here is that artistic consistency – well, quality consistency – is hard and it’s difficult to churn it out on a regular basis. In that respect, issue 60 of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a marvel because like the 59 issues that proceed it, it’s so remarkably good. Continue reading