Saturday, January 31, 2015

TMNT Magazine (Panini) #20


Publication date: October 16 – November 12, 2014

Script: Landry Walker
Art: Iain Buchanan
Colours: Jason Cardy
Colour assist: James Stayte
Letters: Alex Foot

“Uncommon Cold”

Summary:

The Turtles are on the trail of another mutagen canister, though Mikey is sick with a cold and would rather be back in the lair.  He eventually finds the can, but promptly sneezes into a crack in the glass.  The cold virus, carried on his mucous, mixes with the mutagen and mutates into a giant laser-blasting virus!


They chase it into the street and Raph suggests they just wail on it until its dead.  Leo jump-kicks it, Donnie swats it with his staff, Raph punches it, and Mikey… lets it get away because he was too busy blowing his nose.

Back at the lair, Donnie figures that since the virus is such a simple organism, they can track it with ease using the mutagen tracker.  However, they don’t know how to defeat something so historically and medically resilient.  Mikey suggests they give the cold virus a cold, which is a stupid idea, but it gives Donnie some inspiration.  He rigs up some CO2-blasters that’ll freeze the virus and the Turtles head out.


They track it to a warehouse and find the virus lurking inside.  The Turtles freeze it easy enough, but discover that the virus has multiplied out of control.  The dozens of giant viruses begin blasting lasers everywhere and each blast gives the Turtles a debilitating cold.  All the Turtles except Mikey, that is, because the virus originated from him and his antibodies have built up a resistance to it.  Mikey can’t blast all the viruses so he leads them to a walk-in freezer and slams the door, trapping them.


Returning to the lair, Leo and Donnie compliment Mikey on his strategy (which was actually an accident; he thought it was just a normal room where he could lock them up).  Unfortunately, all the Turtles have colds, which means they have to suffer Michelangelo’s homemade remedies (some really gross food).


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Magazine (Panini) #19.  The story continues in TMNT Magazine (Panini) #21.


Review:

Landry Walker comes up with another clever script, finding interesting use for the mutagen beyond “anthropomorphic animal”.  The story is paced really well and there isn’t any fat to the script; everything serves a purpose and it all ties together nicely in the end.  I particularly liked how Mikey being the one to have the original cold at the beginning meant his antibodies had grown a tolerance to the mutant virus, leaving him the most able-bodied hero in the end. 

There’s also the humor of the Turtles literally trying to catch a cold, but that one’s so obvious I feel embarrassed just for mentioning it.

I suppose my only bit of criticism regarding the script is the dialogue at the warehouse.  Raph is the one announcing all the technical commands to the other Turtles on how to use their CO2 blasters.  It just seemed like those lines were written for Donnie but got slapped onto Raph.

I’m reviewing this issue a few months behind, but I’d actually forgotten all about that season 2 subplot from the cartoon; the whole “having to collect the lost mutagen canisters” thing.  That subplot sort of just petered out without much closure or celebration, as I recall.  I think the producers eventually decided, “Okay, we have enough action figure mutants, now.  Let’s move on.”

Iain Buchanan is new to the magazine, I think, and he has potential but could use a little more practice.  His layouts are fine, but his sense of motion is really stiff.  The expressions on the characters don’t seem malleable enough, either.

All in all, though, another solid issue of the UK mag.

Grade: B (as in, “But a giant cold virus with virus-blasting lasers seems funny and harmless until it hits some dude with HIV”.)



Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Pipe Dreams


Publication date: January 21, 2015
Originally published in: TMNT New Animated Adventures #19

Story: Caleb Goellner
Art: Dave Alvarez
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow

“Pipe Dreams”

Summary:

After seeing a commercial for “Stratosfear”, the world’s longest waterslide, the Turtles can’t wait to hit the waterpark.  Unfortunately, they’d never be able to keep incognito in the crowds, thus squashing their plans.  When Splinter recommends they use their resourcefulness to overcome their limitations, Donnie comes up with the idea to use the sewers as one big waterslide.

The Turtles make it to the sewer run-off source, but find that Fishface and a unit of Footbots have beaten them there.  Fishface intends to show the Footbots some sewer-swimming moves so they can add the skill to their repertoire.  The Turtles aren’t thrilled about the Foot using their sewers as a training ground and follow the bad guys down the pipe.


As the Turtles do battle with the Footbots while slipping and sliding, Donnie looks at his map and gives directions on where to turn.  Meanwhile, Fishface chomps into Mikey’s inner-tube, deflates it and then gets tangled in the wad of plastic.  Following Donnie’s directions, the Turtles ditch the slide at the right moment and watch as Fishface is sent screaming out the sewers and into the bay.

Back at the lair, Splinter asks how the slide was.  Leo laments that even the longest waterslide is over before you know it.  Mikey, on the other hand, thought it was “tubular”.


Turtle Tips:

*The story continues in TMNT New Animated Adventures #20.


Review:

As back-up strips go, this one was the usual cute comedy shtick, but Goellner’s script was dotted with little details here and there that popped out to me.  He seems to be an expert on the Turtles; his "TMNT Fan-Comic" was pretty awesome.

I like how Splinter is the one who suggests that the Turtles use their resourcefulness to find a way around not being able to go to the waterpark.  A lot of writers would make him a stiff disciplinarian who would forbid the Turtles from having fun, thus forcing them to work around his watchful eye.  In this case, Splinter sees their lust for wet ‘n wild fun as an opportunity to test their ingenuity.

Likewise, Leo isn’t a 100% stick-in-the-mud and is the first to suggest that they “explore” Donatello’s waterslide alternative.  Both the comic spin-off and the source cartoon seem to have forgotten that Nick Leonardo had moments of goofiness when the show started.  Unfortunately, he’s fallen into the usual Leo rut of being all serious, all the time, so it’s nice when someone occasionally remembers that he could be as juvenile as his brothers.

Other than that, the comic’s the usual back-up strip stuff and not much else to talk about (though Alvarez’s energetic pencils looked really good).  I liked Leo’s assessment that even the greatest waterslide in the world only lasts a few seconds (ain’t that the truth) and Michelangelo’s groan-worthy closing pun reminded me of the old back-up strips from the Welsh Publishing TMNT Magazine.  So there’s that.

Grade: B- (as in, "But the Mt. Splashmore episode of 'The Simpsons' was sort of the zenith of waterslide-related comedy".)



Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Flavor of Fear: Part 1


Publication date: January 21, 2015
Originally published in: TMNT New Animated Adventures #19

Story: Landry Q. Walker
Art: Chad Thomas
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow

“The Flavor of Fear: Part 1”

Summary:

The Turtles have been assigned a stake-out mission by Splinter to watch over a construction site (actually, the rat just wanted some peace and quiet).  Unfortunately, just across the street, a Lucky Star’s Mega Pizza Shack Super Arcade Funhouse has just opened and the temptation proves too much for Michelangelo.  While Leo and Donnie are asleep, Mikey sneaks off to get a few slices.  Raph, on watch, lets him go on the condition that he bring him back something.


Sneaking into the backroom, Mickey steals a karate hamster mascot costume and works his way into the parlor.  His disruption draws the attention of the other mascots (Snyder J. Sausage, Hot Sauce Harry and Mr. Magnificent Meeps) who chase him down.

Back on the roof, Leo surprises everyone with a pizza he snuck off and got earlier.  He’s ticked that Mikey left before he could present it, but the Turtles decide to just eat it without him.  They fail to see that the mushrooms on the pie have weird eyeballs and as soon as they finish, they begin to feel woozy.

Suddenly, they’re attacked by the Kraang who have taken Splinter hostage.  The Turtles meekly surrender and lay down their weapons.  It’s all just an illusion, however.


Inside Lucky Star’s, the mascots drag Michelangelo (who can’t get his brothers to respond on the T-Phone) out of the supply closet and to the big cheese-himself: Pizza Face!


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT New Animated Adventures #18.  The story continues in “The Flavor of Fear: Part 2”.

*Obviously, this story takes place after the season 2 episode “Pizza Face”.

*I’m going to go out on a limb and suggest that Michelangelo disguising himself as an “Adorable Cartoon Karate Hamster” was a reference to the Adolescent Radioactive Black Belt Hamsters.  Created by Don Chin in 1986, they were the first parody of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

*While Mikey dresses up as a hamster in the actual comic, the cover features him garbed in a chicken costume for some reason.


Review:

So let me get this straight… IDW has published a TMNT comic featuring Pizza Face which is also a parody of “Five Nights at Freddy’s”?

There isn’t any good reason this shouldn’t be my favorite thing ever.

So thanks to the Nick cartoon introducing Pizza Face last season, IDW is finally able to do a comic featuring him.  As has been noted in the past, I absolutely adore Pizza Face.  He’s my favorite underutilized character of all time (emphasis on the “underutilized).  The episode of the Nick cartoon he premiered in was a blast and I’ve been counting the minutes until IDW finally caught up and put him in their spin-off book.

While this Pizza Face is, naturally, the “Pizza the Hutt” inspired version from the new cartoon, you can see that author Landry Walker delved into his old Playmates action figure bio for a bit of inspiration.  In that summary, Pizza Face’s MO involved stalking the Turtles by taking over various pizzerias around New York and feeding them pies laced with deadly toppings.  With this story, the modern Pizza Face lives up to the ill deeds of his ‘80s predecessor and does exactly what his old bio says he did. 

Of course, his “deadly” toppings are only hypnotic instead of, you know, DEADLY, but I’ll take what I can get.  In the cartoon, he brainwashed people with his gross toppings so he could bake them alive and EAT them, so that’s actually about 1,000x more horrible when you stop to think about it.

I said earlier that this story seems to be a parody of the popular video game “Five Nights at Freddy’s” and I may be jumping the gun, but it seems pretty legit.  Evil mascots from a kiddy pizza parlor going crazy and breaking down the door to get at the guy holed up in there?  C’mon.  Maybe Walker should have been more on the nose and locked Mikey in the security office instead of the supply closet, but that’s okay.

As for that game, it's simple and fun.  You can hate it for being “overrated” or “one-note” or whatever, but for five bucks you get your money’s worth.

Overall, perhaps I’m giving too much love to this first half of a story just because it features Pizza Face, but you know what?  I ain’t apologizin’ for shit.  I love Pizza Face.

Grade: B+ (as in, “Before anyone tries to call me out, the Nick cartoon parses his name as ‘Pizza Face’ while the old toyline had it as a single word, ‘Pizzaface’”.)


Monday, January 26, 2015

TMNT New Animated Adventures #19


Publication date: January 21, 2015

Contents:

*"The Flavor of Fear: Part 1"
*"Pipe Dreams"


Turtle Tips:

*This issue is preceded by TMNT New Animated Adventures #18.  The series continues in TMNT New Animated Adventures #20.

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