Sunday, March 29, 2015

Cuteagen


Originally published in: TMNT New Animated Adventures #21
Publication date: March 25, 2015

Story: Caleb Goellner
Art: Billy Martin
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow

“Cuteagen”

Summary:

In his lab, Donnie is working on perfecting a retromutagen formula when Mikey comes storming in, insisting that he’s got shellacne again.  It turns out he just fell asleep on a slice of pizza, but in his hysterics he slips on a banana peel and crashes into Don, spilling the retromutagen experiment all over himself.  The stuff turns Mikey into a hyperactive, “pwecious” toddler.


Donatello quickly synthesizes an antidote, but Li'l Mikey snatches it and decides to play keep-away.  Don rallies his brothers to help him catch Li'l Mikey, but the toddler Turtle is too fast and energetic for them to pin down.

Eventually, Splinter enters the living room and disciplines Li'l Mikey (who dutifully obeys his father).  He forces the brat to endure a gauntlet of training exercises until he passes out, exhausted.  Splinter tells Donnie to administer the antidote, but everything starts to get blurry…

Donatello wakes up in his lab, having fallen asleep by his chemistry set.  Splinter tells him that it is time for his exercises.  In fact, Splinter has come up with a new exercise to test stealth, speed and endurance.  It’s called: “Catch Michelangelo”.


Turtle Tips:

*The story continues in TMNT New Animated Adventures #22.

*Mikey got shellacne in the season 2 episode… “Mikey Gets Shellacne”.


Review:

So this story felt like it could have been an episode of the old Fred Wolf TMNT cartoon.  Probably because it WAS an episode of the old Fred Wolf TMNT cartoon.  Hell, I think it might have been TWO episodes.  That series recycled its own ideas a lot.

Overall, it sort of feels like Goellner came up with the pun for the title first and then the actual story after that.  The plot is mostly obnoxious and there isn’t much to it.  Billy Martin’s energetic visuals make the best of this comedy relief back-up.



Friday, March 27, 2015

Natural Enemies, Part 1



Originally published in: TMNT New Animated Adventures #21
Publication date: March 25, 2015

Story: Paul Allor
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow

“Natural Enemies, Part 1”

Summary:

Down in the lair, the Turtles catch a news report from Carlos Chiang O’Brien *click* Gambe about how a bank was recently robbed by a man in a fly costume.  They put two and two together and head to the bank to apprehend Baxter Stockman.


Stockman’s stealing cash to pay for his experiments, since the Shredder won’t fund any of his side projects.  The Turtles try to catch him, but he’s too fast.  Leo realizes that they’re close to the hideout of someone who could inadvertently help them and comes up with a plan.  The Turtles all loudly mispronounce Stockman’s name until he gets mad and chases after them.  They then lead him into a dead end alley that just happens to be where Spider Bytez makes his home.

Spider Bytez is ticked that the Turtles led one of their friends to his hideout, but Stockman explains that he’s an enemy of the Turtles.  Furthermore, there’s no reason for he and Spider Bytez to be enemies since they were both humans before they became a spider and a fly.  Stockman then tells Spider Bytez that if they work together, they can split the cash between themselves.

Down in the lair, the Turtles tell Splinter about how they returned the cash to the bank after setting Stockman and Spider Bytez against each other.  Splinter isn’t so sure that such enemies won’t be willing to work together if they have a common interest.

At the docks, Stockman and Spider Bytez track down several shipping containers full of gold.  Stockman then tells his ally to call the police so the word will get back to the Turtles and set their ambush into motion.


And in Donnie’s lab, he picks up a conversation on the police dispatch about a crank call involving giant insects at the docks.  The Turtles head there in the Turtle Sub and as soon as they arrive, they find Stockman.  They give chase, only to be attacked by Spider Bytez, who sprays acid at them, corralling them into his webs…


Turtle Tips:

*The story continues in “Natural Enemies, Part 2”.

*Spider Bytez last appeared in TMNT New Animated Adventures #10.


Review:

Huh.  Spider Bytez and Baxter Stockman teaming up.  It seems so obvious in retrospect.

I’ve gone on record as saying that Spider Bytez isn’t one of my favorite mutant villains from the Nickelodeon cartoon.  In fact, most of the original mutant bad guys from that first season were pretty lousy.  That being said, where one villain might be lame, there’s always the potential to elevate them by teaming them up with another bad guy.  Spider Bytez might not have what it takes to carry a story on his own, but as Stockman’s lackey he seems to hold up much better.

And I liked how as soon as Stockman and Spider Bytez are pitted against each other, they come to the conclusion of “meh”.  The Turtles rather cartoonishly assumed that because one was a spider and one was a fly, they’d hate each other, completely forgetting that they were originally humans.  I think the cartoon did the same gag in one of the season 2 episodes, where Rahzar and Tiger Claw turn out to be good friends and discuss how it’s stupid to assume they’d hate each other just because one’s a cat and one’s a dog.  So now that I think about it, I guess that gag’s been done already.  Hm.

Overall, it was sort of eh.  I’ll have a more fully formed opinion on the story after the second part is published next month.  One thing DID bother me, though.  Spider Bytez consistently refers to the Turtles as, uh, "the Turtles".  In the show, and even in the previous issues of this comic, he always calls them “the frogs”.  It’s sort of his gimmick.

Looks like somebody forgot about that.

Grade: C+ (as in, “‘Cause if a character’s so lame not even a voice over from Lewis Black can save them, you know there’s a problem”.)


Thursday, March 26, 2015

TMNT New Animated Adventures #21


Publication date: March 25, 2015

Contents:

*"Natural Enemies, Part 1"
*"Cuteagen"


Turtle Tips:

*This issue is continued from TMNT New Animated Adventures #20.  The series continues in TMNT New Animated Adventures #22.

*This issue was originally published with 2 variant covers: Regular Cover by Dario Brizuela, and Subscription Cover by Jon Sommariva.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

TMNT: Mutanimals #2


Publication date: March 25, 2015

Story: Paul Allor
Art: Andy Kuhn
Colors: Nick Filardi
Letters: Shawn Lee and Tom Long
Edits: Bobby Curnow

Summary:

At Mutanimals HQ, Herman the Hermit Crab and Mondo Gecko talk about their polarizing dispositions (Herman’s a career soldier, Mondo’s a slacker) and also Mutagen Man.  Mondo doesn’t like him, but Herman thinks he’s just a former POW that needs to acclimate to society.


At Null Group HQ, the devilish-looking CEO of the company, Madame Null, interviews Lindsey for a scientific position in her company.  With Jillian’s reference, Null agrees to hire her and puts her on the mutant project.

Outside the Null Group lab, Old Hob and Slash are dismayed to find that they’ve beefed up security, making it impossible for them to rescue the other mutants trapped inside.  Hob decides that they need to kidnap a scientist and interrogate them.  Luckily, one just so happens to be leaving…

Back at Mutanimals HQ, Mondo decides to give Mutagen Man a chance and they play video games together.  Mondo says that Mutagen Man deserves a better name than the one Null gave him and starts calling him “Seymour Guts”.  Mutagen Man laughs at the pun and it’s the first time he’s ever laughed in his life.

In their interrogation room, Hob and Slash have the scientist tied up and they’re grilling him for info.  The scientist explains that Madame Null wants to create an army of mutant hybrids, each genetically tailored to any conceivable occupation (combining the traits of different animals to be the most effective).  Madame Null has designs on conquering the world’s economy with her mutant workforce.  Hob asks where the other mutant experiments are and the scientist says that all were executed except Mutagen Man and two others.  The other two are about to be shipped off at the train yard.  Hob pulls out a gun to kill the scientist, but Slash stops him, insisting that they’d be just as bad as Null’s scientist if they did so.


Hob rallies the Mutanimals for an immediate attack on the train yard, but Slash once again undermines his authority and questions the plan, thinking they shouldn’t charge right into danger.  Hob insists that the mutants about to be shipped off don’t have the luxury of waiting and orders the Mutanimals into the van.  Mutagen Man hesitantly joins them, wanting to save the other experiments like himself.

They charge into the train yard in their van, but are immediately surrounded by Null soldiers.  Madame Null greets them, saying that the scientist they captured freed himself and gave them warning of the attack.  Hob shoots her, but the bullets do no damage.  The soldiers descend upon the Mutanimals and begin taking them captive.  Hob orders Slash and Mondo to retreat and they slip away in the chaos.  The Mutanimals are then loaded onto the train where the two other mutant prisoners, a cat-woman named Sally and a man-ray named Ray, are already imprisoned.


Elsewhere, Slash and Mondo reconvene.  Mondo doesn’t know what to do, but Slash tells him that they’re going to do what they must because they’re… The Mighty Mutanimals!


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT: Mutanimals #1.  The story continues in TMNT: Mutanimals #3.

*This issue was originally published with 2 variant covers: Cover A by Kuhn and Filardi, and Subscription Cover by Ben Bates.


Review:

Man, we’re in the midst of the most unexpected revival I could have ever hoped for (besides Pizzaface, I mean).  The Mutanimals have been slowly building in the pages of the IDW comic for a while, but now they’ve broken into the Nickelodeon cartoon, too!  Everywhere I look, it’s the Mutanimals!  And I love it.

I bring up their recent debut in the Nick TMNT cartoon because there seems to be some (possibly coincidental) synergy between IDW and Nick.  The Nick Mutanimals are led by Slash and now, with Hob in the lock-up, so are the IDW Mutanimals.  I dunno if that was arranged beforehand or just a happy accident, but it’s neat to see the two incarnations aligning like this all of a sudden.

It also makes it easier to read IDW Slash’s dialogue with Corey Feldman’s voice in my head.

Anyhow, to speak to the specifics of this issue, Allor does a fine job of balancing the grimness with the humor.  The comic isn’t bipolar; like the first 11 page are dark and brooding while the last 11 pages are fun and goofy.  The lighthearted antics are woven in and around the darker narrative and there’s no tonal whiplash to speak of.  At times, Allor even seems to be reminding the characters to lighten up when things get too intense (Pete interrupting Hob’s and Slash’s Serious Business with a parade of bubbles).  I mean, this book is called “Mutanimals”, how serious can you honestly make it?

While Hob and Slash do take center stage, arguing over the finer points of leadership, we do get time to learn about the other members of the team.  Herman’s still a little thin on characterization, but I enjoyed seeing him show the most concern for Mutagen Man right at the getgo.  Mondo being portrayed as a slacker was a good lead-in to his predicament at the end of the issue, having to accept the responsibility of rescuing his comrades.  Pete remains Pete and god bless him for that.

As for Mutagen Man, he’s rather sad and pathetic so far, but I have a feeling he’s going to show some dangerous potential before the mini’s over.  I wonder exactly how they’re going to render his powers or just WHAT powers they’re going to give him.  His original Playmates action figure never described any specific ability, but gave him a machine gun.  The old Fred Wolf cartoon interpreted his bio’s description of “ever changing” to mean that he could duplicate the appearance of anyone he laid eyes on.  The Nickelodeon cartoon just gave him extending liquid arms.

So who knows what he’ll be able to do in this incarnation.

As for Madame Null, that was an interesting change.  I don’t think it really has an impact on Null’s character, whatever sex he/she is.  Admittedly, one of Null’s recurring shticks in the Archie comic was that he liked to hit and demean women (because he was the devil), so seeing him turned into a woman has a lick of irony to it.  So far, Madame Null is a rather typical villain, but let’s be honest; so was the original Null.

And hey, two new faces.  Ray is obviously Man-Ray/Ray Fillet, but Sally looks to be an original character.  Unless she has spots under that coat and turns out to be Jagwar.  Anything’s possible, I suppose.

Grade: B+ (as in, “But Allor missed a golden opportunity to use that bow-tied scientist to introduce Professor Jordan Perry into the IDW series!  Bah”.)