Publication date: November, 1994
Story: Dean Clarrain
Art: Gray Morrow
Letters: Gary Fields
Color: B. Grossman
“April O’Neil: The Angel of Times Square, Chapter I”
*The Future-Turtles and Nobuko returned home from the past in TMNT Adventures #61. The story continues in TMNT Adventures #63.
*Verminator-X was last seen in TMNT Adventures #44. Armaggon also attached Hitler’s brain to Don’s timeslip generator in that story.
*The Cyber Samurai armor has had several conflicting origins across the various TMNT mediums. It appeared in the Fred Wolf cartoon in the episode “Cyber-Turtles” and in the comic CBS Action Zone #1.
*This issue also included a bonus gatefold pin-up of the Cyber Samurai Turtles by Chris Allan, a pin-up of Ninjara vs. the Shredder by Matt Roach, and a bonus April O’Neil back-up story, “The Angel of Times Square” by Dean Clarrain and Gray Morrow.
In the “Hype” column at the end of this issue, Murphy (Clarrain) explains that the more mature quality of the “Dreamland” arc had to do with the fact that it stars, well, more mature Turtles. Older, that is. And Murphy certainly doesn’t waste any time making that apparent in the story-itself, as we begin with Raph covered in the blood of his slaughtered enemies before melting away into a skeleton. Then that’s followed up with him waking up in bed with his new girlfriend, Mezcaal, and you can probably guess what they were up to in there. And then there’s the whole Nazi Germany thing and the robbers committing a rather graphic form of suicide (I guess cyanide capsules just don’t have the visual oomph that vaporizing capsules offer).
At a glance, you’d never guess that this was solicited towards elementary schoolers.
It’s nice to get a Future-Turtles story that’s strictly the Future-Turtles. We don’t have to split any page time with the present day incarnations and their multitude of conflicts; we can take time to really focus on this future world and where our cast ultimately winds up a hundred years from now (er, 1994). My favorite aspect of the whole issue wasn’t any of the “gritty, mature, violent” stuff (as cool as it looked, thanks to Allan), but simply seeing what each Turtle does for a living now that they’re all grown up.
Their various occupations all seem perfectly suitable and a natural place for them to go now that they’re no longer carefree teenagers, but regular 9 to 5 working Joes. Well, kind of regular. In Raph’s case, apparently once you go fox, you never go back. Though I’m sort of left with this sensation that Mezcaal is sort of the Madeline Pryor to Raph’s Scott Summers. In the X-Men comics, after Jean Grey died the first time, Scott hooked up with Madeline because, “Hey, you look just like my dead girlfriend. Let’s get married!” I have to wonder if that’s a part of Raph’s motivation for dating Mezcaal (who has to be at least fifty years his junior, considering he’s over 100 at this point). “Hey, you look just like my dead fox girlfriend but with dreadlocks! Let’s open a club together!”
Mike painstakingly working on a memorial for April was rather heartfelt. Along with Image’s TMNT (Vol. 3), this storyline was one of the only ones to run with Mikey’s love of the arts, be it writing or drawing (something Mirage chose to willfully ignore). April has to have been dead for quite some while, but the fact that Mike is constantly erasing and starting over shows that he wants her memorial to be perfect.
The various fates of the Turtles in Archie’s future actually offer a great mirror to their fates in Mirage’s future. There’s something of a “cracked looking glass” between them, as the various fates in the Mirage universe are “similar but more depressing”. That’s not surprising.
As for the Cyber Samurai armor? Pure product placement, but Murphy at least admits to it in the “Hype” column at the end. I’ve always sort of liked the Playmates shilling in TMNT Adventures (I read a lot of Marvel’s Transformers and G.I. Joe books, back in the day), so I can’t say it bugs me. Mike’s helmet kinda makes his head look like a cow’s, though.
The back-up strip sticks to the theme of this main story, but following April’s future. Since her lifespan is far shorter than the Turtles, it can’t run parallel to the “Dreamland” storyline. Still, it’s great to know how she and Oyuki make out in the far flung future of 1999, particularly Oyuki becoming a seasoned reporter of her own merit. I always sort of worried about Oyuki in the comic, that she would inevitably regress back to being a punk or a slacker, so it’s comforting to know things worked out for her in the end.
The story-itself touches upon subject matter you wouldn’t expect to see in a supposed kid’s book (nothing new to TMNT Adventures, as I mentioned a few paragraphs ago). For a book that got in a lot of trouble a couple years before due to its religious subject matter, I’m surprised they had the guts to run this storyline. Gray Morrow’s art, on the other hand, looks better suited to something like “Mary Worth” and seems too weirdly “soap opera” for this comic.
Grade: B+ (as in, “But an advertisement in this issue reminded me how much I truly miss Garfield Ravioli”.)