Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Donnie Finds a Relic

Publication date: November 11, 2015
Originally published in: TMNT Amazing Adventures #4

Story and art: Sina Grace
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow

“Donnie Finds a Relic”


While sledding in the junkyard, Donatello notices Raphael has something lodged in his shell.  Donnie pries it loose and finds that it’s an unlabeled audio cassette tape.  He spends the next few days agonizing over a way to play it, but none of his machines can read cassettes and building a tape player is a lot more complicated than he thought.  Donnie fears that the cassette, being from the analog age, may contain some form of wisdom that has not yet been uploaded to the cloud and, if not transferred to a digital medium, might be lost forever.

Sensing Donnie’s distress, April heads to a pawn shop to buy a boom box.  She trades an old record needle for it, but as she leaves, she’s accosted by a unit of Foot Soldiers.  April beats the stuffing out of them and returns to the sewer to present Donnie with the boom box.

As it happens, the tape contained a demo track from a circa 1987 indie rock band called Coco and the Pebbles.  They never hit it big or released any albums and so that tape is one of the only recordings of their music in existence.  The Turtles, April and even Splinter then get down to the hot licks.  Unbeknownst to Raph, he has a hard disk lodged in his shell…

Turtle Tips:

*The series continues in TMNT Amazing Adventures #5.


I do love stories that revolve the outdated technology of my generation.  It’s low hanging fruit and an easy way to please me, but I don’t care.  I think my favorite episode of Cowboy Bebop is the one where the characters spend half an hour trying to find a Beta player only to end up with a VHS.  I'm an easy mark for that shit.

“Donnie Finds a Relic” is maybe a little ahead of its time, at least regarding the difficulty to obtain cassette players.  Donnie laments that the technology has been rendered antique and is now unobtainable while the boom box April finds in the pawn shop is priced in accordance with such rarity.  I’m pretty sure we aren’t quite there yet in regards to the scarcity of cassette players, but hey, maybe in another 5 or 6 years.

But I think the story might be intended more as a reflection of the child audience this comic is aimed at, who have never had to coexist with tape decks and VHS players.  To them, such technology IS lost to the sands of time and thus unobtainable, so I suppose it comes down to perspective.

Otherwise, the story is fairly straight forward.  I liked that Grace used human Foot Soldiers instead of the robotic Footbots which the cartoon has switched over to on a fulltime basis.  It’s always a pleasure to see some season one elements crop up when every other Nick TMNT outlet has moved on past them.

Grace’s art has that intentionally “rough” look in both the pencils and the coloring.  It's that “deliberately sketchy” aesthetic where background lines are left half-finished and the colors “miss spots” like they were haphazardly applied in quick brush strokes.  It’s a popular trend among indie artists, though perhaps getting so popular it’s losing its appeal.

Anyway, like a lot of these guest back-up strips, “neat” pretty much sums it up, but I’m glad to be getting these things.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Meeting of the Mutanimals, Part Two

Publication date: November 11, 2015
Originally published in: TMNT Amazing Adventures #4

Story: Matthew K. Manning
Art: Chad Thomas
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow

“Meeting of the Mutanimals, Part Two”


Unconscious in his Kraang holding cell, Slash recalls the past…

Spike watches as Raphael spars with Leonardo.  Raph can’t get the drop on his brother, so Splinter suggests he resort to misdirection.  Raph tricks Leo into thinking his Space Heroes pinball machine is busted and uses the distraction to tag his brother.

The present.  Dr. Rockwell uses his telekinetic powers to dump a bowl of water on Slash and wake him up.  Slash recognizes Rockwell and Leatherhead (who is in the next cell down).  Rockwell has been fitted with an inhibitor helmet, though his mental powers are strong enough that he can still levitate small objects with it on.  Unfortunately, he cannot operate the Kraang control panel, as it is too complicated.  Next to the control panel, Pigeon Pete has been shackled to the wall.  Seeing this, Slash concocts a plan.

Kraang Subprime then comes by and begins to gloat that soon he and his forces will begin converting the air on Earth into the atmosphere of Dimension X.  Slash tells him that by doing so, he’d destroy the greatest food on Earth: Pizza.  Having never tried pizza, Subprime orders his men to fetch him some from the nearby pizzeria.

They return, but the pizza has gone stale.  Slash loudly mentions that it’s too bad all the stale crusts, the BREAD, will go to waste.  Pigeon Pete immediately goes bonkers at the sound of “bread” and breaks free from his shackles.  Slash tells Rockwell to levitate the pizza over the control panel, and in his zeal to get the crust, Pete destroys the console.

The cell doors slide open and Slash orders his team of mutant animals, his “Mutanimals”, to attack and retreat.

The past.  Spike watches as Raph struggles to get out of a hold that Splinter has him in.  Splinter tells Raph that he isn’t coordinating his body, but flailing all his parts independently.  He explains to Raph that he can be much stronger if he unites his parts into a single force.

The present.  Slash and the Mutanimals leap across the rooftops, now a fully assembled fighting force.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from “The Meeting of the Mutanimals, Part One”.

*Kraang Subprime mentions how Slash escaped the last time they captured him.  That was during the season 2 episode, “Metalhead Rewired”.  Pigeon Pete and Dr. Rockwell were also among the mutants who escaped from the Kraang in that episode.


The Mutanimals' origin story concludes.  Not really a whole lot to say about it; Slash’s escape plan kind of hinged on Kraang Subprime being an idiot, but the Kraang have never been that smart.

It was the flashbacks to Slash’s time as Spike that I enjoyed most.  Loved the idea that he was fully cognizant, even when he was just a normal dopey-eyed turtle, and was processing everything going on around him while he chomped on his leaves.  

In a way, it adds some credibility to the fact that upon being mutated, Slash was instantaneously on par with (maybe even a little better than) the Ninja Turtles.  He basically got all the same training they did from Splinter, even if he didn’t actively participate in it.

Also, I liked the callback to “Metalhead Rewired” as a means to explain how Rockwell and Slash knew each other.  I’d forgotten about that episode and the collection of mutant characters who shared a prison block in it.  Good pull on Manning’s part.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

TMNT Amazing Adventures #4

Publication date: November 11, 2015


*"Meeting of the Mutanimals, Part Two"
*"Donnie Finds a Relic"

Turtle Tips:

*This issue is continued from TMNT Amazing Adventures #3.  The series continues in TMNT Amazing Adventures #5.

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

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

The Gamera-thon concludes!

My trip through the Showa era Gamera series concludes.  It took a little longer than it was supposed to (I'd intended to finish up by Halloween), but I got through 'em all.

Here's an archive of my Gamera reviews so future generations may learn from my wisdom:

Gamera: The Giant Monster

Gammera: The Invincible (US cut of Gamera: The Giant Monster)

War of the Monsters (Gamera vs. Barugon)

Return of the Giant Monsters (Gamera vs. Gyaos)

Destroy All Planets (Gamera vs. Viras)

Attack of the Monsters (Gamera vs. Guiron)

Gamera vs. Monster X (Gamera vs. Jiger)

Gamera vs. Zigra

Gamera: Super Monster

All-in-all, I'd say my favorites were "Return of the Giant Monsters", "Attack of the Monsters" and "Gamera vs. Monster X".  They're all weird and goofy and fun, but without long boring stretches like some of the other films in the series.

Now I'll get back to reviewing the 1987 TMNT cartoon produced by Fred Wolf.  The "proper" seventh season is actually full of a lot of good episodes and I'm looking forward to rewatching them.