Publication date: July, 1994
As the memory fades, the government official loads a syringe. He tells Michaelangelo to relax while he begins a battery of tests…
*The prologue/epilogue of this story is continued from TMNT Adventures #57. The story continues in TMNT Adventures #59.
*The government official mentions the news reports of mutant turtles on TV. The Turtles were caught on camera in TMNT Adventures #47.
*The Pre-TMNTs will appear again in TMNT Adventures #71.
*On page 11, a piece of trash Mike picks up in the sewer is a copy of The May East Saga. Looks like Murphy (Clarrain) didn’t like that story any more than we did.
*This issue also contained a bonus “Punk Turtles” pin-up by Brian Thomas.
On principle, I have nothing against this sort of flashback story being used as a breather issue between heavy, action-oriented arcs. It was cute and light and pretty fun for what it was, and the aforementioned cuteness acts as a great juxtaposition with the terribly grim bookending segments.
The problem, then, is the execution. I suspect that the pre-teen Turtles story was originally commissioned for a TMNT Special or something, and I do so for a couple of reasons. Firstly, the prologue has its own title separate from the title of the main story, which is weird. But more than that, the prologue ends with Mikey narrating the story of his youth, but when that story starts, it’s narrated by Splinter. The epilogue tries to harmonize this by having Splinter’s narration segue into Mike wondering about Splinter’s safety, but the two don’t mesh in the slightest. There’s also the fact that Splinter is shown telling the story to *someone*. Why would Mike remember Splinter telling him the story of how he got his orange bandana? It just doesn’t make any sense.
This was clearly a filler job to keep things on schedule; they took a completed story then slapped a 3-page bookending sequence on it to make it seem relevant. Their attempt to bridge the two was sloppy and it could have used a lot more effort to harmonize things. I know it would’ve been more work, but either Sullivan or Murphy should have rewritten the narration in the main story to be in Michaelangelo’s voice. They’d have to have removed that last panel of Splinter looking at the audience and ending the tale, but I’m sure they could have filled it in with something. As it is, the conflicting narrators are just confusing.
But, were you to ignore the bookending sequences and take the pre-teen Turtle story on its own, it’s actually pretty enjoyable. The cameo from “Master Saki” was a nice touch and I like how they downplay his identity. He’s a shadowy figure when he appears and his name is only dropped once, and in passing, by the thieves. It makes one stop and think how this story affected Shredder’s own timeline, too. He clearly has his sights set on acquiring hi tech devices, but his usual band of idiot thieves don’t cut it. It isn’t much of a leap in logic to see how this failure would drive him to ally himself with an alien brain in exchange for advanced weaponry and machines. He also doesn’t appear to have taken on the identity of the Shredder yet, as his flunkies call him by his real name (something he found infuriating in his first appearance at the beginning of the series).
The idea that Splinter can’t tell his sons apart instinctively doesn’t reflect too well on the old rat, I have to admit, though the concept made for an amusing plot. I did get a laugh out of the Huey, Dewey and Louie hats at the end; a pretty good fake-out. Brian Thomas’s art is also really expressive and energetic; there’s a lot of fluid energy to it. If you compare this story to his earliest work on the title it’s amazing to see how quickly he grew and changed.
Overall, the only thing really bringing this story down is the slapdash prologue/epilogue, but even then, that’s only 3 of the 27 pages in this issue. The narrative transitions are poor, yes, but you adjust pretty quickly to who is and isn’t talking, so I suppose it isn’t that big of a deal.
Grade: C+ (as in, “Can’t deny that I prefer THIS explanation for the rainbow bandanas over the one IDW came up with”.)