Sunday, April 27, 2014

Love Bytez


 Originally published in: TMNT New Animated Adventures #10
Publication date: April 23, 2014

Story: Derek Fridolfs
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow

“Love Bytez”

Summary:

It’s Valentine’s Day and Mikey wants to share the love amongst his brothers with some valentines.  Unfortunately, they’re all too busy to notice his handiwork, so Mikey wanders off to the rooftops to be alone.  While watching the happy couples on the streets below, he notices how every time he looks away, they vanish.


The other Turtles respond to Mikey’s call and find him on the roof wearing a tinfoil hat and rubbing himself down in pizza grease.  Mikey suspects the disappearances to be the work of the Kraang, ghosts and Bigfoot working together, so he’s prepared his countermeasures accordingly (the Kraang can’t read his mind through the tinfoil hat, Bigfoot can’t grab him if he’s all greasy and ghosts aren’t scary if you have a group with you).

Investigating, they find a trail of spider webs leading to an abandoned building.  They all come to the conclusion that Spider Bytez is behind the kidnappings and attempt to infiltrate his lair through the skylight.  Spider Bytez anticipates their arrival, bringing down the roof with acid and then trapping them all in webbing.  Spider Bytez explains that he took the couples hostage to lure the Turtles out, but also to get revenge on all the happy people out there who are still human.  As a bonus, he wants to make the Turtles pay for getting him mutated.

Luckily, the pizza grease allows Mikey to slip through the webbing.  He proceeds to “mock” Spider Bytez by showering him with compliments and uses the distraction to slip Leo his bladed nunchakus.  The other Turtles get free and follow Mikey’s lead, irritating Spider Bytez so he spits acid indiscriminately in all directions.  Meanwhile, Mikey helps the (blindfolded) couples out of the building.  All the acid eventually brings the building down and the Turtles escape as Spider Bytez is buried alive.


Down in the lair, the Turtles apologize to Mikey for ignoring his valentines and thank him for saving the day.  As a sign of their appreciation, they have April bring in a heart-shaped pizza.  Splinter likewise thanks Michelangelo for reminding his family to never take for granted the people who care for them, as there are others out there who aren’t so lucky.  On the surface, Spider Bytez stomps around an alleyway in incoherent rage.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT New Animated Adventures #9.  The story continues in “Mikey’s Map”.

*The Turtles last met Spider Bytez in the season 2 episode “Metalhead Rewired”.


Review:

So, Spider Bytez.  Let’s talk about him.  He was one of the earliest mutant villains introduced in the Nickelodeon TMNT series and he was also one of the quickest to be forgotten.  Of his two appearances in the cartoon thus far, he’s been the focus of neither episode and is just sort of this random action figure character who shows up whenever Nick can afford to get Lewis Black in the recording booth.

While I don’t care for his design one bit, I think what really hurts Spider Bytez is that he has no motivation or resources capable of carrying a story.  He was just some overweight TV jockey who accidentally got mutated and now he’s mad at the Turtles (and really, it WAS totally their fault he got dragged into a Kraang mutagen facility).  How do you write stories around a villain like that?  He isn’t smart enough to come up with any inventive schemes, he hasn’t allied himself with the larger villainous forces so far as we know (the Kraang tried to keep him locked up, but he was hardly working for them), and he has nothing driving him to even BE a villain other than “the Frogs made me into a freak”.

There just isn’t a lot to work with and I imagine that plays a large part in why we hardly ever see him.

Newcomer to New Animated Adventures (though he previously did some inking for Mirage, on the story “The Mother of All Anger”), Derek Fridolfs does his level best to centralize a narrative around the TMNT’s most shallow adversary.  I think he does about as well as anyone working with the character can be expected.  Setting it on Valentine’s Day provides an excuse for Spider Bytez to be angrier than usual and to take his bitterness out on random people, and likewise Fridolf works the holiday shenanigans into Mikey’s side of things so it all comes together.  One of those “two sides of the coin” deals; not exactly innovative but it paces out a good story with a lesson to be learned.

Exactly what Spider Bytez planned to DO with those hostages isn’t elaborated upon.  Fridolfs avoids any mention of him eating them, which I actually liked, as it keeps him distinct from the TMNT’s other most shallow adversary: Snakeweed.  Snakeweed’s deal is that he kidnaps people, imprisons them in cocoons and then turns them into fertilizer so he can eat.  Admittedly, a giant spider capturing people so he can eat them makes a little more sense, but again, it keeps Spider Bytez’s gimmick from retreading Snakeweed’s (while also keeping him somewhat sympathetic).

All in all, I don’t think “Love Bytez” was a bad story, I think it just suffered from having to utilize a villain that hasn’t much to offer.  If Spider Bytez is ever to stand a chance of being, you know, GOOD, he’ll probably have to quit being a solo act and join up with some other mutants or something.  Because on his own, he just can’t carry a story.


Grade: C (as in, “Can’t we get an issue with Newtralizer?  That guy was awesome”.)

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