Script: Dan Berger
Letters: Eric Talbot
Cover: Jim Lawson and Steve Lavigne
*The main story in this issue takes place “just before it all started”, so just prior to TMNT (Vol. 1) #1 (Berger’s opening editorial confirms this placement).
*The epilogue has to take place sometime after the main story in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #41, as Mikey was seen in that issue but is designated missing, here.
*According to author Dan Berger, the April robot was originally going to be an alien girlfriend of Raph’s, but was changed when Peter suggested the April robot (which Lawson subsequently drew to look similar to April’s design from the Fred Wolf animated series).
*In regards to Mikey’s missing status in the epilogue, Berger stated that he put that in there due to Mikey’s status in Laird’s TMNT Vol. 4, where he was adventuring in space. Not sure if Mikey would ever make it back, Berger added the ominous starry sky to imply he may still be out there.
*Raph’s rage-filled attempt to clobber Mikey in practice foreshadows a more serious attempt in Raphael (microseries) #1. Leo repeats Master Splinter's lesson about "striking hard and fading away into the night" in TMNT (Vol. 1) #1.
*This issue also contained a bonus pin-up, “Raphael” by Bruce Hatten and Ryan Brown.
“Day in the Life” is perhaps one of my favorite stories from Tales Vol. 2. It isn’t exciting, it isn’t action-packed, it doesn’t have high stakes and it doesn't introduce any new villains or allies. Yet it’s a very special issue and one that’s extremely memorable to me because it doesn’t try and do any of those things. It’s just… a day in the life.
One of the things you’ll notice about the TMNT, mostly because they’re comic book characters, is that they can never have a dull moment. They go on a camping trip? Warring alien princesses attack. They go river rafting? Angry fish people attack. They play hide and seek? The Rat King wrecks their shit. They try to relax at the farm in Northampton? Cousin Sid holds everyone hostage because he wants a treasure map.
They just can’t catch a break.
Obviously, not every single day of their lives can be like that, but as readers looking for entertainment, those are the days we get to see. An entire issue where Raph works on his motorcycle, Mikey plays video games, Don reads a computer manual and Leo meditates would not make for an enthralling 20-something pages.
But “Day in the Life” is just that sort of issue and, after twenty-five years of nothing but stories where the Ninja Turtles fight assassins and aliens and monsters, it’s a very refreshing and honest diversion. As someone that really enjoys the characters in and of themselves, I do find myself curious what an “ordinary day” is like for them. I can see how someone new to the Turtles or perhaps just a casual fan would find this sort of tale tedious and dull, but I think for those of us more invested in the series, it offers its own fascinating tidbits.
Dan Berger pens a very mellow script that offers only a small level of conflict and melodrama to give the tale the faintest amount of zing (and a nice foreshadowing of Raphael #1) while not getting away from the intended purpose of being a very average twenty four hours. He peps the story up with some light comedy that’s amusing, though not overly hilarious (and again, an excess of elaborate humor would have taken away from the point of this tale). My favorite moment, incidentally, was the two-panel gag where Mikey gets a time out.
There’s never-the-less a strong emotional backbone to “Day in the Life”. In his twilight years, left all alone in the ruins of the world, with a lifetime of unique and amazing memories to look back on… Raph chooses, instead, to reflect most wistfully on an incredibly average day from his youth, before they began having their world-shattering adventures. In his opening editorial, Berger says it best: “These are tomorrow’s good old days”. And he couldn’t be more correct. I’m 27 as I write this review, with that dreaded Three-Oh creeping up a little closer as every minute passes. It’s starting to feel like “Logan’s Run”; like the second I hit that terrible number, the jewel in my hand is going to start blinking. But also as I get older, I find myself reflecting more frequently on the simpler times; when I was a kid and didn’t have to worry about rent and work and groceries and bills. And I’m sure that ten years from now, I’ll look back at when I was 27 and think I had it pretty great, then.
It’s a sensation I’m sure we’re all pretty familiar with and Berger channels it expertly in his script. I’ve got a few “exciting” memories, sure, but they aren’t the ones I treasure most. As I get older and I slowly but surely begin to either lose or part ways with the people I care about most, it’s my mundane memories of them that I summon with the greatest fondness. Likewise, for Raph, it isn’t his memories of the warring alien princesses or fish-people or Rat King or whatever that he chooses to dwell on in his old age, but the time his brother fixed his teddy bear for him.
And that’s what really makes this issue stand out for me. Not just the fact that by intentionally being so average it winds up offering a unique story, but because it taps into an emotion we can all relate to as we grow older.
Grade: A (as in, “And Dooney’s frontispiece is one of my favorites in the whole volume. The Popeye arms on the toddler Turtles are great”.)