Story: Gunther Jones and Eric Talbot
Art and letters: Jim Lawson
Colors: Barry Grossman
Edits: Fulop and Gorelick
Inky created by Eric Talbot
“North to Alaska, Part One”
On the tarmac at Fairbanks International Airport, the jet heading to Japan accidentally leaves without loading Inky’s pet-carrier. The poor Chihuahua whimpers and struggles to get out of his cage, but gives up as the snow starts to fall and be begins to freeze.
*This story is continued from TMNT Adventures #61. The story continues in TMNT Adventures #68.
*Tattoo and Inky last appeared in April O’Neil #3.
*"J.D. Vollman", like "Dean Clarrain", was a pseudonym used by series writer Steve Murphy (why he changed pseudonyms is unknown).
*This issue also contained an Inky bonus story, “North to Alaska, Part One” by Jones, Talbot and Lawson.
And so begins the story that gradually writes Ninjara out of the series. Not that it matters, I suppose, as TMNT Adventures wouldn’t last much longer after this arc, anyway.
As I brought up a long time ago when Ninjara was first introduced, I never felt sold on her romance with Raphael. It always felt like a pairing done out of convenience; “You’re a mutant ninja, I’m a mutant ninja… Let’s make out!” I’ve since come to tolerate Ninjara and even enjoy her a little, despite the fact that in forty-something issues as a supporting character, she ultimately brought next to nothing to the dynamic aside from a fifth pair of hands and a fifth voice to spout generic, interchangeable dialogue that anybody could have spoken. There’s nothing particularly strong about her character; her only memorable aspect being who she’s dating. They could have swapped her out with Mona Lisa and it would have had zero impact on the flow of TMNT Adventures what-so-ever. I don’t hate Ninjara like I used to, I just find her extremely bland. Seemingly the only reason fans cling to her is because they have a… “thing” for her. Hey, whatever floats your boat, weirdos.
Murphy (under new pseudonym, "J.D. Vollman") seemingly shares my appraisal of Ninjara’s character and brings all her foibles to light in this opening chapter of the “Moon Eyes Saga”. Murphy addresses the fact that Ninjara and Raph never shared much in common beside a devotion to martial arts and their infatuation with one another was simply a shallow teenage crush. Future-Raph, in previous issues, tries to stress that Ninjara was “the one” and Raph should have done everything in his power not to lose her, but I think Murphy had a better understanding of their so-called romance.
Ninjara actually gets a bit meta when she finally explains to Raph why she’s pushing away from him. All she’s done since they’ve met is tag along on his adventures, fighting Raph’s enemies and following, well, HIS story. It’s as though she’s realized that she’s become nothing more than background dressing and that her joining the Turtles has only stunted her growth as a character; she’s there to give THEM support rather than pursue any development of her own.
While Ninjara’s cold and irritable treatment of Raph at the start of the story certainly feels out of the blue (and, truthfully, there’s no build-up to her snapping in any of the previous issues), she’s certainly not misguided in her behavior. As for Raph’s culpability in all this, she accuses him of being too wrapped up in his own moods to pay her proper attention and, at least from what we’ve seen, that’s very true. Raph is perhaps the most teenage of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles; a mood-swinging, selfish jerk that feels the world is out to get him and everything must revolve around him in some way. Even when Ninjara was introduced as his love interest, it never served to mellow him out or allow him to grow; he still kept acting like a self-centered brat all the way up through Slash’s funeral.
Ninjara basically outgrew him and that reality adds an even more pathetic layer to Raph as we see him in the future. Future-Raph is constantly pining over what essentially boils down to his “high school sweetheart” and, even a hundred years later, continues to date fox-women like Mezcaal to fill the void Ninjara left behind. He basically never, ever got over her.
As for the Inky back-up, it’s some more cute pantomiming ala the previous Inky serial. I do have a soft spot for dogs, so seeing Inky whimpering in his cage was a little sad. I always hated crating my pets as a kid since I’m a sucker for dog whimpering.
Anyway, more broken hearts and furry-bait in the next few issues. If you’ve ever felt fed up with Raph’s selfish jerkitude, then you’ll probably enjoy the “Moon Eyes Saga”. He finally gets what’s coming to him.
Grade: B (as in, “But Nei’Sha sure looks ridiculous with that humongous 80s perm. Twas a mercy killing”.)