Sunday, March 30, 2014

The Raisin'


Originally published in: Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #6
Publication date: November, 2004

Story: Steve Murphy
Artwork: Jim Lawson

“The Raisin'”

Summary:

In the morgue of the Kurtzburg Memorial Hospital, a strange creature called the Morto Mollucos (aka the Lazarus Fly) pulls the corpse of Professor Obligado from its cabinet.  The Mollucos is an alien that can momentarily revive the dead by reactivating their memories.  The Mollucos then feeds on those memories for nourishment.  As it prefers Utrom memories, it is regarded as one of their most persistent predators.

Just as the Mollucos revives Obligado, the NYPD Xenosquad (the Police Captain, Sergeant Xitor and Detective Falina) comes barging into the morgue, having anticipated the creature’s plan.  Sergeant Xitor opens fire on the Mollucos while Obligado, in a state between life and death, mistakes the fluorescent lights as the gateway to the afterlife.  The weapons fail to harm the Mollucos, an alien that Sergeant Xitor seems to have a personal beef with.

Suddenly, a portal opens up in the room and several helmeted Utroms on hovercrafts come through.  They are the Utrom Preservi, a rogue faction of Utrom “memory preservers”.  Sergeant Xitor tries to shoot them, but they blast her in the torso with their more advanced weaponry, revealing her to be an Utrom.


The Preservi subdue the Mollucos and take it as well as Obligado’s babbling corpse back through the portal, their “mission” proceeding on schedule.  Xitor is furious that she lost the Mollocus, Obligado AND the Preservi.  The Police Captain, on the other hand, is furious that Xitor never informed him that renegade groups of Utroms existed.  Xitor promises to get him up to speed… over some beers.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from “The Grape”.  The story continues in “The Risen”.

*The Kurtzburg Memorial Hospital first appeared in TMNT (Vol. 4) #2.

*The Police Captain and Detective Falina will return in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #58.


Review:

We’re still in what’s essentially the “prologue” stage of the Professor Obligado serial, establishing his death before we can get to the stories about his life.  To be honest, whenever I think about the Obligado serial, I actually remember this prologue section more than I do the bulk of the chapters (which are a series of bizarre adventures in outer space and other dimensions).

“The Raisin'” reminds me a bit of that Edgar Allen Poe story, “The Facts in the Case of M. Valdemar”.  Look, if you haven’t read it, just check out the Roger Corman movie “Tales of Terror” from 1962.  It has Vincent Price AND Basil Rathbone!  What more do you need?  

Anyway, in that story a crooked hypnotist promises to alleviate a dying man’s suffering by putting him in a trance.  However, the trance lasts long after the man dies and he continues to remain partly conscious as his body rots in bed.  The sight of Obligado being brought back from the dead in a half-state of consciousness, as though he were in a trance, gave me flashbacks to my old high school reading.  It’s a good story; H.P. Lovecraft even recommended it in his essay “Supernatural Horror in Literature”.

Sergeant Xitor and the Police Captain made brief, unnamed cameos in the last installment of this serial. With their new, colorful identities as well as the more defined cast of the Xenosquad in group shots (rather than the generic policemen from last chapter), Murphy seemed to be trying to flesh them out as a recurring stable of personalities.

Ha ha.  No.  They make one more “substantial” appearance after this, as background fodder at the end of the Wild West C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa arc.

There's some weird discontinuity regarding Sergeant Xitor and the Police Captain, too.  The female Police Sergeant being an Utrom is clearly something Murphy came up with later.  In the previous chapter, it's the Police Captain who has to explain the menta-wave helmets to the Police Sergeant (Xitor) and give her a lesson on Utrom history.  Obviously, since she was an Utrom all along, why would she need a human like the Police Captain to explain her own culture to her?

While the Xenosquad never really got to do much, I guess their existence qualifies as a case of world-building; showing us that there are a lot of diverse and interesting characters in this world whom we don’t have time to see much of.  Also, hey, the Kurtzburg Memorial Hospital.  I think this is the only time it gets referenced after it was introduced at the start of TMNT Volume 4, right?


Grade: N/A

1 comment:

Katie Kunkler said...

While it's been three years since this was posted, and you've probably realized this yourself, I do have something to say about the Police Sergeant talking about the menta-wave helmets like Xitor doesn't know what they are. It seemed like he was mostly talking about the helmets to the human police around him.

Not only that, but I wouldn't expect Xitor to know *every single thing* about her species' illicit activities. They probably have just as many - if not more - illegal activities as humans, and even police officers can't know all of them. I will say this, though: Yay for another female Utrom. There's...what a whole three in all of Eastman-Laird TMNT? Xeinos, Xitor, and one of the Illuminated (Grum).

When I first read this months ago, it broke my theory that Utroms weren't physically capable of nursing their offspring, but from Obligado's memory of his mother, it looks like they do. I figured they regurgitated or something like that. So now I just question where Utroms under this design have the space in their bodies for it. The last end issue of Obligado having fleas in his hair was even more confounding. Why do they have hair strands???