Wednesday, February 25, 2015

TMNT (IDW) #43


Publication date: February 25, 2015

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow and Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow

“Attack on Technodrome, Part Three”

Summary:

On Burnow Island, the Foot and General Krang’s army throw down.  While Koya and Bludgeon take on Tragg and Granitor, Krang pays Shredder back for sinking his ship.  Shredder is still bewildered that Krang was ready for him and the General mocks him for being betrayed.  The Turtles observe this and use the confusion to slip away so they can find the Fugitoid.


In their holding cell, Baxter Stockman reveals to the Fugitoid that he’s had a secret plan going all along.  When his Flyborg tapped into Krang’s computer system some while back, he downloaded the Technodrome’s schematics.  From there, Baxter uploaded malware into the system that would activate one minute after the Technodrome was switched on.  Baxter would then be able to seize control of the device for his own ends (though even one minute of terraforming would be long enough to kill thousands of people).

The Fugitoid won’t let Baxter get away with this and uses his holographic projector to take on the guise of Chet Allen.  He tricks the guards into thinking the Fugitoid has escaped and open the door.  Baxter has his own escape plan in motion, though, and dozens of mini-Mousers pour out of an air vent and shock the guards and the Fugitoid unconscious.


Back at Foot HQ in New York, Karai and Hun are suddenly besieged by Hob’s gang and Splinter.  Herman, and Mondo Gecko make short work of the Foot Soldiers, while Slash goes toe-to-toe with Hun (who wants revenge for the sucker punch Slash gave him earlier).  Slash takes Hun down with ease.  While all this is going on, Splinter locks swords with Karai and tells her that her grandfather’s time is over.  However, he expresses hope that she not suffer the same fate as him. 

During the confusion, Hob slips into a backroom and raids it of all its ooze/mutagen.  Now having what he came for, he orders his gang to retreat, leaving Splinter behind to fight Karai alone.

Inside Krang’s base, the Turtles tear their way through the guards only to be confronted by Baxter and his army of Flyborgs and mini-Mousers.  They see he has the Fugitoid held captive and dive into the fray to save him.


Outside, Krang receives word that the base is being invaded and Baxter has holed up in the Technodrome control room.  Krang leaves the pummeled Shredder behind and rushes to his base.

Inside, Baxter is about to activate his malware when Krang interferes, knocking Baxter out.  He then has his technicians reroute control and activate the Technodrome.  The Turtles, overwhelmed by Baxter’s forces, are helpless to do anything as the giant eyeball sends out a blast of terraforming energy.

Meanwhile, knowing that he has been betrayed by the Turtles, Shredder sends a message to Bebop and Rocksteady to kill Donatello.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #42.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #44.

*Shredder sank General Krang’s ship in the previous encounter, in TMNT (IDW) #37.

*Baxter Stockman used his Flyborg to steal the schematics of the Technodrome in TMNT Villains Micro-Series #2: Baxter.

*Slash sucked punched Hun in TMNT (IDW) #28.

*The events of the Mutanimals miniseries spin-out from this issue.

*This issue was originally published with 3 variant covers: Cover A by Smith and Pattison, Cover B by Eastman and Pattison, and Cover RI by Aaron Conley.


Review:

Now, I know I criticized the pacing of the first half of this arc; it was all set up to get us HERE.  But now that we’re HERE, I’m having a blast.  I kinda wish we could be HERE all the time, but then if we were, I guess HERE wouldn’t feel quite so special.

All the mingling plot threads have finally collided head on and it’s pretty much madness the whole way through.  What’s great is how much action there is in this issue, yet the story still moves forward.  This isn’t just an “everybody fights” issue.

I suppose my only grievance has to do with the Fugitoid being duped by Baxter.  I mean, who didn’t see that coming?  It may have been a shock to the Fugitoid, but it wasn’t one for the audience.  And, really, why on Earth would the Fugitoid be surprised that Baxter betrayed him?  That’s all Baxter DOES, for pity’s sake. 

Their subplot in this arc basically consisted of “betrayals within betrayals” and every time before now when it seemed like Baxter was throwing Fugitoid under the bus, it was all a part of their scheme to trick Krang.  By the time the REAL betrayal finally came around, the story had cried wolf one too many times and I was just sort of sick of the whole exercise.

But that’s my only substantial complaint with this installment.  I loved seeing the Mousers again and I dig it when media keeps those guys around as part of Baxter’s entourage beyond their initial appearance.  The Mousers, iconic TMNT foes as they may be, rarely continue on past their debut (be it in comics or cartoons), so it always feels kind of special when they show up again.

I didn’t so much care for the Mutanimals so quickly agreeing to ditch Splinter on Hob’s say so.  I guess the intent was to show how loyal they are to Hob (even though they question ditching Splinter at first), but would Slash really be okay with leaving the father of one of his closest friends to die?  And Mondo seems like way too nice of a guy to follow up abandoning an old man to certain death with a vacuous catch phrase (“Lead the way, Jefe!”).

That said, I’m pumped for the Mutanimals miniseries.  The first issue came out the same day as this one, so I’ll be reading that next.

As for Splinter, his words to Karai have me interested.  Way back when I reviewed Karai’s micro-series issue, I mentioned that IDW’s version was missing the one thing that linked all the disparate incarnations of Karai together: A sense of sympathy for the Turtles.  Every Karai has been wildly different from the others, save for that single bit of characterization.  To date, IDW Karai is the only one who has lacked it which has sort of made her feel like Karai in name only.

Splinter expresses a sense of hope that she won’t follow the same path as her grandfather.  Is this the start of some sort of cooperative relationship between Karai and the Turtles, similar to the ones she’s had in every other portrayal?  I don’t think Karai is in need of being “redeemed”, mind you (she’s murdered wayyyyy too many people in cold blood to ever qualify for “redemption”), but I would like to see a play on her consistent trait of working with the Turtles.  Maybe the writers will take it in a different direction and have her manipulate and use the Turtles under the guise of cooperation?  But then again, I think we’ve gotten enough of that betrayal stuff with this Baxter/Fugitoid plot thread.

Lastly, I enjoyed seeing Krang just beat the SHIT out of the Shredder.  It’s a sobering reminder that the Shredder isn’t the unstoppable ultimate villain he’s often made out to be.  In fact, it’s very consistent with the IDW series.  The Turtles whooped Shredder with relative ease when they fought him in TMNT (IDW) #12.  However, they got comparatively wrecked in their battle with Krang in TMNT (IDW) #20.  Krang really is the stronger adversary in this universe and his fight with Shredder in this issue reminded us all of that.

Anyhow, while the book still reads like it’s written for the trade, this arc has really geared up in the back half as I knew it would.  THIS was the part I’ve been twiddling my thumbs for over the past couple months.

Grade: B+ (as in, “By the way, I really appreciate that Cory Smith doesn’t draw the Turtles with dopey buck teeth and freckles and huge glassy eyes.  As much as I like Santolouco, he’s been sugar-coating his Turtle designs more and more over the past few arcs and it’s starting to bug me”.)


Tuesday, February 24, 2015

TMNT Movie II: The Secret of the Ooze



Originally published by: Tundra and Archie Comics (see Turtle Tips)
Publication date: Summer, 1991

Script: Dean Clarrain (Steve Murphy)
Art: Jim Lawson
Letters: Mary Kelleher
Color: Barry Grossman
Editor: Scott Fulop
Managing editor: Victor Gorelick
Based on the screenplay by: Todd Langen
Cover: Jim Lawson and Steve Lavigne

Summary:

Pizza delivery boy Keno is on his way to April O’Neil’s place when he hears a commotion at the mall across the street.  He confronts a gang of thieves and holds his own with martial arts ability until he’s overwhelmed by their numbers.  Luckily, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show up (Mikey blurting out that they saw him from the roof across the street) and beat the thieves senseless.  Raph sends Keno away to call the cops and when he returns, April’s pizza is gone (but paid for).


At April’s apartment, the Turtles enjoy their pizza and celebrate their latest victory.  Splinter warns them not to get sloppy just because the Shredder is gone.

At the local dump, Tatsu has gathered the remnants of the Foot Clan at their backup HQ.  Before he can announce his plans to be the new leader, the Shredder (badly scarred from his fall into a dump truck) returns and repairs his helmet.  Shredder wants revenge against the Turtles for defeating him and orders one of the Foot Soldiers, Freddy, to follow April O’Neil.


At a toxic waste disposal site in New Jersey, April interviews Professor Jordan Perry of the Techno-Global Research Industries.  He explains that now that they’re developed new technologies to dispose of toxic waste, TGRI intends to dig up and properly eliminate all their previous waste chemicals.  (At the apartment, Splinter observes this report and decides to meditate on the subject.)

Freddy decides to keep up with Professor Perry when he goes off to look at something serious and discovers giant mutant dandelions.  He takes one back to the Shredder, who finds them very interesting.  He dispatches his men to TGRI to kidnap Professor Perry and steal any ooze that may be left.

Meanwhile, Splinter calls his sons to the roof of the apartment building and shows them the original canister of ooze that mutated them.  They read the inscription, “TGRI”, and realize where they must search to find answers as to their origin.  The Turtles infiltrate TGRI, but arrive too late.  All but one of the ooze canisters have been eliminated and Tatsu and the Foot have stolen it.

They return to April’s place only to be suddenly interrupted by Keno, delivering a free pizza.  Keno notices Raph hiding and stomps on his foot, drawing him out.  Splinter sits him down and tells him the story of where they all came from.  Keno says that he can help them find the Foot’s HQ, as Foot Soldiers have been aggressively recruiting teenagers with martial arts skills off the street.  Raph likes the plan, but Splinter forbids it, much to their chagrin.


At Foot HQ, Professor Perry refines the ooze and douses a snapping turtle and a wolf with it.  They are mutated into the hulking Tokka and Rahzar, but they have the minds of infants.  Shredder is displeased until he witnesses the destructive power they possess and decides to keep them around.

Keno and Raph have decided to go ahead with their plan against Splinter’s wishes.  Keno infiltrates a Foot recruitment center and with Raph’s help is accepted into the Clan.  Raph follows Keno as he’s taken to the dump, only for both of them to be spotted.  Raph is captured and Keno is allowed to escape, setting the Shredder’s plan into motion.

While all this is happening, the other three Turtles search the sewer for a new lair (deciding they’re too out in the open at April’s place).  Mikey accidentally stumbles upon an abandoned subway station and they move in.  At the same time, Keno makes it back to April’s place with the bad news and she relays it to the Turtles and Splinter.


The Turtles sneak into the dump, only to find that the Shredder is alive and waiting for them.  He traps them in a neat and a crane begins to maneuver them toward a bed of spikes.  Luckily, they were prepared for this and Splinter fires an arrow, cutting the net and freeing them.  The Turtles rescue Raph, only to be met with Tokka and Rahzar.  The two brutes pound on the Turtles, but in the chaos Donatello is able to rescue Professor Perry.  They escape into the sewer system.

Professor Perry joins them in the new lair and answers their questions about the ooze, explaining that the concoction and the fact that it was lost in the sewers was all one big mistake.  This depresses Donatello, but Splinter assures him that nothing in life happens on accident.

Meanwhile, Shredder sends Tokka and Rahzar to an empty city street where they destroy everything in their path.  April goes to interview Police Chief Sterns about the attack, but is cornered by Freddy.  He delivers a warning from the Foot: The Turtles are to come to the dockside construction site tonight or the Shredder will unleash Tokka and Rahzar on a populated Central Park.

April delivers the message and the Turtles have no choice but to comply.  However, Professor Perry reveals that he sabotaged the ooze when he refined it, which is why Tokka and Rahzar are idiots.  He says he can reverse the mutagen and together they whip up an antidote.  The only problem is that the evil mutants will have to eat it.

The Turtles arrive at the construction site where the Foot is waiting.  Shredder sics Tokka and Rahzar on them, but the Turtles trick the mutants into eating donuts laced with the antidote.  The only effect the antidote seems to have is that it makes them burp and the enraged mutants promptly throw the Turtles through the wall of the nearby Dockside Club.

Meanwhile, back at the lair, Keno decides he can’t stay and meditate with Splinter any longer and has to help his friends.


As for the Turtles, they’re not only getting beaten up by Tokka and Rahzar in the club, but they also have to listen to Vanilla Ice belt out the “Ninja Rap”.  Professor Perry and Donnie conclude that the burping is why the antidote is failing, because it needs carbon dioxide to function.  The Turtles then grab some fire extinguishers and blast CO2 directly down the throats of Tokka and Rahzar, kick-starting the antidote and de-mutating them back into a normal snapping turtle and wolf.  They then clobber Tatsu and the Foot Soldiers and dance on stage.

The Shredder isn’t through yet, though, and reveals that he has plenty of ooze left.  Keno then arrives and the distractions allows Leo to knock the canister from Shredder’s hands (where Professor Perry quietly picks it up and leaves).  Shredder takes a girl hostage and pulls out a small vile of ooze, threatening to mutate her.  Keno pulls the girl from his grasp, knocking the Shredder backward into a large speaker.  Donnie cranks up the volume and Mikey strikes a chord on a guitar.  The sonic blast sends Shredder flying through a window and out of the club.

The Turtles follow him to a pier and find that he’s taken the ooze, mutating himself into Super Shredder.  Super Shredder begins tearing apart the pier, knocking huge beams of wood down on top of them.  The Turtles dive into the water as the whole pier collapses, crushing and killing the Shredder for good.


The Turtles return home to tell Master Splinter of their victory.  He asks if they were seen and they assure him that they practiced the art of invisibility like true ninja.  Splinter then shows them a newspaper with the headline “Ninja Rap is Born!” and urges them to practice harder.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT: The Movie.  The story continues in TMNT III: The Turtles are Back… In Time!

*Obviously, this one-shot comic is an adaptation of the 1991 “TMNT II: The Secret of the Ooze” motion picture from Golden Harvest.

*2 versions of this comic were published simultaneously by Tundra and Archie Comics:
**Tundra Edition (painted colors by Richmond Lewis, bonus pages)
**Archie Newsstand Edition (flat colors by Barry Grossman, no bonus pages)

*There was no Mirage edition of this comic.  The Tundra edition is sometimes erroneously referred to as the “Mirage edition” probably because Tundra was the publishing company owned by Kevin Eastman (many Tundra comics are often mistakenly credited to Mirage).

*CHET ALERT: The mall Keno visits at the beginning is called “Chet’s Mall”.  The name Chet was an in-joke slipped into the TMNT comics by numerous creators back in the day because… they just liked the name!


Review:

Note: The only version I own is the Archie Newsstand Edition, so that is the version I am reviewing.

Just as the second TMNT film isn’t nearly as good as the first, so is the second comic book adaptation not nearly as good as the first.

I don’t want to talk too much about the story or anything, because I’d rather save those opinions for a review of the film (I’ll get to them one of these days).  So I’ll just say that the adaptation is a condensed but accurate scene-for-scene retelling of the events of the movie. 

Unlike the adaptation of the first film, this script seems to be working from pretty much what we got in the completed film, so don’t expect to see many deleted scenes or “extras”.  The only bit I noticed in the comic that didn’t seem to make it into the film (aside from a little extra dialogue that may have been Steve Murphy’s creation) is a scene explaining what “the sudden disappearance of TGRI” meant.  There are a few scenes midway through the comic where April interviews the TGRI folks a second time and finds them packing up shop and refusing to explain themselves.  Professor Perry later mentions that it’s standard procedure in case of a waste containment breach and that facilitates April’s line at the end about the “sudden disappearance” (in the actual movie it comes off as a weird non sequitur since it wasn’t foreshadowed).

I think what hurts this adaptation most is the lack of layouts from Kevin Eastman.  Jim Lawson’s layouts look like somebody playing a game of Tetris… and losing



Oddly sized panels are randomly dropped down onto the page, leaving needless amounts of dead space and there’s always this feeling of disconnect between what you’re reading from panel-to-panel.  Nothing seems to flow coherently, especially when Murphy tries to fit in all the gags and dialogue, making these weird strings of nonsense that feel awkward without the proper scene pacing of the film.

Characters look extremely crude and I’m going to guess that Lawson was really rushed to put this 64-page special out.  By 1991, Lawson was doing a LOT of work for Mirage, Archie and whatever else he had going on, so I can forgive him for not giving this movie adaptation his all.

I don’t know how Richmond Lewis’s colors look in the Tundra edition, but Barry Grossman’s colors are all sorts of messed up throughout this comic.  Again, it feels like a rush job; he had to get 64 pages of comic colored and onto the stands pronto.  Just try and read the sequence where the Turtles and Splinter are watching April’s newscast about TGRI.  They can’t keep the right colored bandanas from panel-to-panel, so it looks like Leo spontaneously changes his opinion on what he wants to watch 3 or 4 times in the span of 10 seconds.

There are other weird disconnects, too.  For instance, when the Shredder returns from the grave and appears to Tatsu, he’s cloaked in Shadow and Tatsu is remarking that his face has been brutalized.  Just like in the movie.  But on the very next page, Shredder is fixing his helmet and his face is fully visible for several panels and it looks just fine (if a tiny bit scratched up).  It’s like between pages, Lawson forgot that the Shredder was supposed to look hideously mangled.

“The Secret of the Ooze” adaptation is pretty cruddy, all things considered.  It’s very clearly a rush job in terms of art and colors and doesn’t offer enough deviations from the finished film to feature anything “new”.  It honestly doesn’t represent any of the creators at their best.  Is it the worst of the Archie movie adaptation series?  Well, I’m not sure since I haven’t read the TMNT III adaptation yet.  But that one has art by Chris Allan, so how bad can it be?  I guess I’ll be finding out soon…

Grade: D- (as in, “Did I mention that there’s a throwaway line of dialogue before the shopping mall fight where Leo tells the Turtles to stow their weapons and be ‘masters of their environment’?  Well, now you know why they fought with yo-yos and sausages in that scene”.)


Monday, February 23, 2015

Awesome Turtle Picture #34


It seems like Europe got a lot of beautiful painted covers for their trade paperback reprint collections of the Mirage TMNT series.  I posted the covers by Glenn Fabry before, now here is a beautiful piece by Tanino Liberatore:


It's a pretty stunning depiction of the events of Rick Veitch's "The River" trilogy.  You've got the demutated Raphael perched on Michelagelo's shoulder and a pretty intimidating rendition of Bloodsucker (with some great water effects; all done the old fashioned way) duking it out with Leonardo and Donatello.

Special thanks to user "Nortock Diab" of The Technodrome Forums for sharing this piece with me!


TMNT (Vol. 4) #16


Publication date: June, 2004

Writing, lettering, inking, toning: Peter Laird
Layouts, penciling: Jim Lawson
Inking: Eric Talbot
Cover painting: Michael Dooney
Production assistance: Dan Berger

Summary:

In the Foot warehouse, Leonardo takes the blow from the mystery warrior’s maquahuitl blade directly to his shell, but manages to absorb it.  They fight some more, but Cha Ocho interferes with a taser blast that stuns the warrior (and “accidentally” tags Leo).  As the Foot Soldiers bind the warrior, Karai removes the blade from Leo’s shell, determining that it came just short to breaching through the carapace and reaching his organs.  Looking at his broken katana, Leo decides to join the Foot in interrogating the warrior.


Marginal Way, Ogunquit, Maine.  Michelangelo and the Regenta go for a walk on the shore, chowing down on fried clams and getting to know each other.  They become more familiar as they talk and Mikey eventually drops formalities and speaks casually with her.  The Regenta then asks if he’d like to go for a swim.


At the tepui, Donatello and the Utroms, inside the glass habitat, listen to the giant wood-creatures outside speak to them.  One of the Utroms says that it’s a rare Utrom dialect that they’re speaking and their words roughly translate to, “It took you long enough”.  The wood-creatures leave and Donatello introduces himself to the lost explorers: Ken, Simon and Beth.

As they head back to the explorers’ shelter, Don tells them of all the changes that have happened since they went missing.  Beth, in turn, tells him that they aren’t the only ones trapped in the habitat and that they need to stay in groups to avoid predators.  Don notices that there seems to be no scale to the plants and things inside the habitat; some are way too small and some are way too big.  Beth concedes that this lack of scale has made it impossible to determine if they themselves have been shrunk or if the wood-creatures have grown in size.


They reach the shelter and meet the other two explorers, Juan and Bob.  They happily welcome Don and the Utroms to “hell in a jar” and hope they can think of a way out.

In New York, a driver drops off a load of beef to a restaurant and returns to his truck, only to hear rustling in the back.  He grabs a tire iron to scare off what he thinks are hooligans, but discovers “Gameraph” chowing down on a side of beef.  The driver locks the door of the truck and runs off to call either the cops of the Xihad.  Raph escapes with the side of beef and takes refuge in the sewers where he falls asleep.


Raphael proceeds to have a distorted dream where he sees himself cira “Return to New York” battling the Shredder.  However, when he kills the Shredder, he realizes he’s actually killed Master Splinter.  He’s suddenly besieged by Baxter Stockman in his robot body, the goth vampires and even himself in the form of “Gameraph”.  They toss him down a pit and laugh at him as he plummets.


Suddenly, a hand reaches out to grab a chunk of meat.  Raph wakes up from this and prepares to defend his meal… from Leatherhead!


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 4) #15.  The story continues in TMNT (Vol. 4) #17.

*Raph’s dream sequence recalls the (warped) events of TMNT (Vol. 1) #19, TMNT (Vol. 1) #21, TMNT (Vol. 2) #8, TMNT (Vol. 4) #10 and TMNT (Vol. 4) #12.

*Raph previously dreamed about betraying and killing Splinter in TMNT (Vol. 2) #1.

*Leatherhead last appeared in TMNT (Vol. 4) #11.


Review:

The opening fight between Leo and the mystery warrior is one of the better laid out fight sequences in Volume 4, I think.  If you go through a lot of Lawson’s mid-2000s work, you’ll notice that his fight layouts are rather bland; a lot of disjoined feints and blows scattered about through panels that aren’t arranged to accentuate any sort of kinetic flow.  They’re a far cry from his layouts during “City at War”, which are some of the best action layouts in comics, hands down.

BUT, that’s why fights like this stand out.  While it still suffers from some bland “punch-kick-punch” choreography, it’s a bit neater and there’s less disconnect from panel to panel.  I think what also helps is the whole “Leo with a he sword lodged in his back” thing.  The warrior spends part of the fight trying to dislodge his blade, distracting him from Leo’s attacks but also causing Leo pain whenever he gets his hands on it.

There’s also the fact that it ends due to interference from the Foot, so the conclusion comes suddenly and not as a dragging brawl.  Cha Ocho being the one to zap Leo “accidentally” was funny, though that’s kind of been all they’ve been doing this volume; taking little shots and jabs at each other.  The great rivalry of Leo and Cha Ocho just amounts to a bunch of juvenile teasing.

Mikey and the Regenta’s romance is blossoming and it’s a weird thing to read in a Mirage TMNT comic.  Romance has never been an element of their narrative outside of maybe Donatello swooning about Jhanna in TMNT (Vol. 1) #13.  Well, there was Mikey’s and Horridus’s whole thing in the Image series, but “that doesn’t count anymore” or whatever.

Point is, it’s just kind of strange to be reading a decompressed romance story starring one of the Turtles in a Mirage book.  It’s pretty saccharine stuff; not an epic romance for the ages by any measure… but it’s something else we’ve never gotten before in a Mirage TMNT comic, so it sort of feels fresh.  I actually like it, even if the dialogue is hammy and predictable. 

And if you take the Image series into account (it’s up to the reader to decide whether it “counts” or not, I think), then it paints an even more interesting picture of Michelangelo.  He’s the Turtle who has had the most number of long, serious romantic relationships in this continuity (between Horridus and the Regenta) and he’s definitely the Turtle most interested in dating.  It’s certainly fitting, as part of Mike’s characterization that’s always been consistent has been his desire to be “normal” and live the way “normal people” do.  Which is also funny, considering he’s the dreamer that reads comics and keeps his head in the clouds all the time.

Once you peel back the catchphrases and comedy relief shtick, Mikey’s actually a pretty interesting character.

Anyway, onto Donatello.  His segment drags as it amounts to 12 (TWELVE!) pages of talking and walking.  Don and the explorers don’t actually exchange a lot of information, at least not enough to warrant 12 freakin’ pages (they’re in a glass prison, there are predators, and they may or may not be shrunken).  I mean, this is a pretty action-packed issue, all things considered, bookended by two fight sequences, so I’ve no problem with the middle segments (Mikey’s and Donnie’s) being dialogue-driven.  But man, these 12 pages last a freakin’ lifetime.

Finally, Gameraph has a disjointed dream with weird symbolism that may or may not actually mean anything.  It’s funny that Raph is the one dreaming about betraying and killing Splinter; he had the same nightmare back in TMNT (Vol. 2) #1.  Why he seems to be the one to consistently dream about betraying his sensei has never been expanded upon.  What exactly IS Raph’s complex?  Maybe because he never got control of his anger issues and thus feels he “failed” Master Splinter in some way?  Your guess is as good as mine.

The cliffhanger is one of Volume 4’s best, too.  I can’t tell you how psyched I was when I first saw it back in 2004.  Keep in mind that Tales of the TMNT Volume 2 was still in its infancy when this issue came out and we really hadn’t seen much of Leatherhead in a while.  So it felt like a big deal.  I’m actually looking forward to rereading the next issue for the first time since it came out and seeing if the fight scene lives up to my memories.

All in all, this was a pretty solid issue of Volume 4.  The Donnie segment drags due to excessive decompression, but for the most part it was paced decently; dialogue-heavy sequences sandwiched between action-heavy sequences.  It works.