The adventure over, the Turtles decide to get back to their zen training, figuring they’ve just about got it down.
*Due to the lack of Ninjara, this story has to take place before TMNT Adventures #28. Personally, I like to place it between TMNT Adventures #4 and TMNT Adventures #5. I do this mostly because April sits the whole battle out, indicating she hasn’t undergone her training from Splinter yet, which was first mentioned in TMNT Adventures #23. I also place it there because the plot of Splinter teaching the Turtles rudimentary lessons in martial arts technique seems to fit it even earlier in the series. As the Turtles would eventually display advanced telepathic communication skills with Splinter in TMNT Adventures #17, I figure this story should come well before that one.
Michael Gaydos really didn’t get enough work on TMNT Adventures. While his style was a little rough at first (“The Darkest Hour”), he improved rapidly and became one of my favorite infrequent contributors (the Merdude miniseries being my favorite of his work). Unfortunately, what with TMNT Adventures having a regular artist that almost always made his deadlines (and Jim Lawson seemingly locked-in as the fill-in artist), that pretty much meant Gaydos could only offer his talents to the occasional TMNT Adventures Special segment or miniseries.
“Zen Million Years to Birth” is the longest story in TMNT Adventures Special #10 and easily the best-looking. Unfortunately, it has a somewhat sloppy script that definitely would have benefitted from some tighter editing. For instance, no explanation is given as to why Cid is hanging with the Turtles after April lectures him (I assume it’s to replant the cacti he rustled, but it’s never stated or shown). He’s just… still there. Hours later. And why the heck does the Grog ship crash? I figured it was because it tried to take off too early, but no explanation is given. Most of the issue consists of comical battles with the aliens to the detriment of the story’s overall coherency.
And speaking of the “funny” fighting, it’s pretty much the sort of thing you’d have seen in the Fred Wolf cartoon because the Turtles weren’t allowed to punch anybody. Like, you know, when they’d drop a trashcan over some guy’s head and say something to the effect of, “You’ve been CANNED!” That sort of thing. It’s pretty loathsome in this story, though I did get a laugh out of Kak-Ti shooting his own troops because he has no depth perception. Unfortunately, the whole comedy battle just goes on way too long. And why the heck didn’t April do anything? She just vanishes from the story until the fight’s nearly over with no explanation for her absence. Again, it really could have used some better editing.
Grade: C- (“Cactus-related fiction wouldn’t recover from this blow until ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ came along fifteen years later”.)