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

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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

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: Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything 1

bebop rocksteady destroy 1

Today, Ryan D and Taylor are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything 1, originally released June 1st, 2016.

Ryan D: The premise is simple: what happens when two borderline sociopathic idiots get their hands upon a time travel device? Think Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure but with two mutated, monstrous gang members. But there’s actually quite a bit going on under the hood of this comic, exploring two beloved characters and making the reader ask some questions while still being a fun punch-up.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deviations 1

tmnt deviations

Today, Patrick and Taylor Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Deviations 1, originally released March 30th, 2015.

Patrick: Iterating on mythology is common practice for the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles team. You could even argue that iteration and exploration of the franchise’s mythology is not only something that IDW does incredibly, but is the whole point of the series. There are so many fan favorite characters, stories, locations and details taken from decades of comics, TV shows, movies, video games and action figures, all melded into one gracefully grotesque whole. So what happens when the team iterates on itself, looping back to re-examine a pivotal moment in their own history through a “what if” lens? The result is an insightful look at our heroes, but perhaps more importantly, it shows us just how delicately balanced all that mythology has been over the past five years. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 55

tmnt 55

Today, Taylor and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 55, originally released February 24th, 2016.

Taylor: Interpersonal relationships are a hard thing. We’ve all judged and been judged on who we hang out with and the types of relationships we have with these people. Chances are, you’ve wondered why Person X would ever date Person Y or what Person A sees in Group B. The thing is, when you’re in a relationship, it’s hard to see it for what it is. It’s only after things get sufficiently good or sufficiently bad that we finally realize where the relationship stands. Basically, relationships of any type are hard for people. When you’re a mutant though, things are only tougher. Not only do you have your animal instincts to consider, but you have the ever shifting landscape of alliances and double-crosses to consider. TMNT 55 explores the idea of relationships and shows how they sometimes lift you up and sometimes bring you down. Continue reading

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 54

tmnt 54

Today, Spencer and Drew are discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 54, originally released January 27th, 2016.

black and white

Spencer: Telling someone they see things in black and white is practically tantamount to calling them childish. The general idea is that as people grow up, the world and the decisions they have to make in it become more ethically gray, and trying to hold onto clear definitions of “good” and “evil” in the light of that is futile. Of course, when confronted with that line of reasoning many respond just as Calvin did in the strip above — they claim that sometimes things really are that simple! In essence, this is the argument that dominates Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 54, where the Mutanimals nearly splinter over the discovery of Old Hob and Hun’s alliance. Continue reading