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

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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

Best of 2017: Best Issues

Best Issues of 2017

Episodic storytelling is the name of the game in monthly comics. Month- or even multi-year-long arcs are fine, but a series lives and dies by its individual chapters. From self-contained one-offs to issues that recontextualize their respective series, this year had a ton of great issues. Whittling down those issues to a list was no easy task (and we look forward to hearing how your lists differ in the comments), but we would gladly recommend any (and all) of these issues without hesitation. These are our top 10 issues of 2017. 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/Ghostbusters II 5: Discussion

by Taylor Anderson and Patrick Ehlers

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

Taylor: Sticking the landing is the hardest part of any endeavor. It doesn’t matter if it’s landing a plane, finishing a gymnastics routine, or writing the end to a story: it’s just plain difficult. In all of these examples, sticking the landing is hard because they require one final flourish of skill before the tension in the situation is resolved once and for all. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters II has to stick its landing in this, the final fifth issue. It does so successfully but in a way that is overshadowed by the brilliance that came before it. Continue reading

Mining the Overlap in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters II 4

by Drew Baumgartner

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ghostbusters II 4

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

I love the idea of Platonic Forms — that there are ideas bigger and more perfect than any one example could ever be. The easiest examples are shapes; a “sphere” is a simple enough concept to imagine, but any real-world example of one, from the smallest subatomic particle to the largest star, isn’t quite as perfect, and is tied down to specific properties (weight, size, color) that have nothing to do with the idea of a sphere. And this is true of so much of our world. You can read the words I’m writing because you can identify every letter, but the same would be true if the letters were a different weight or color (or size or font, if I could figure out how to change those). In this way, we might imagine some kind of “pure” form of each letter that each example hints at, though I tend to prefer to think of it as the center of a disperse cloud of what each letter can be. Intriguingly (and increasingly), media franchises work in this same way. There may be a “pure” form of Batman that each comic, movie, cartoon, tv show, radio serial, etc. points us towards, but our reality gets to be much more interesting, as each actual manifestation highlights something different about the character and his world. The messiness of those different manifestations — the shape of the cloud they create — seems to be exactly what Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters II  was designed to celebrate. 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

Intriguing Character Pairings in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters II 3

by Spencer Irwin

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ghostbusters II 3

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

Crossover stories are meant to be fun, but like all the best stories, they also have the potential to explore and deepen characters in unique ways. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters II writers Erik Burnham and Tom Waltz take advantage of this opportunity by splitting their two teams up into unique pairings, each with the potential to draw something new out of their characters. Continue reading