Sunday, August 30, 2015

TMNT (Vol. 4) #26

Publication date: February, 2006

Writing, lettering, toning: Peter Laird
Layouts, penciling: Jim Lawson
Inking: Eric Talbot
Cover painting: Michael Dooney
Production assistance: Dan Berger


On the Styracodon homeworld, a secret bunker operated by a trio of Triceraton Commandos observes the landscape above.  The Commander sees Michelangelo on one of their hidden cameras and recognizes him from a long time ago.  He decides to act before the Styracodons get to him first.

Mikey, meanwhile, is still on the run from the prison guards.  He makes it to some old farmlands and tries to eat a few dried out vegetables he recognizes from his prison mush.  Just then, a trap door opens and the Triceraton Commander pops out.  Before Mikey can react, the Triceraton stuns him with a laser and drags him into the bunker.

On Earth, the Guardifriend continues trying to drown Shadow in the river.  Luckily, Metalhead shows up in the nick of time.  He pulls Shadow from the water and destroys the Guardifriend with his hair tendrils.  The Guardifriend tears off a chunk of hair in the skirmish, but Metalhead reattaches it.  Metalhead and Shadow then head back to Stainless Steve Steel’s farmhouse for reinforcements.

In another dimension, Leonardo’s liquid portal opens and he steps through.  The portal returns to a puddle of tap water, which Leo carelessly leaves behind on this alien landscape.  A weird deer-thing takes a sip of it and freaks out (is this relevant?  I don’t fucking know).  Leo continues to explore the dimension: A dense jungle of ruins and strange animals.

Leo comes across an alien creature named Jorut, who speaks a language he can’t understand.  Jorut hits him with a Balponagu, a mosquito-like insect whose sting allows the victim to understand all languages.  Jorut introduces himself as an official greeter for the Battle Nexus, tasked with seeing that all visiting warriors find their way to the arena and understand one another.

As they walk, Leo explains that he was not invited to the Battle Nexus, but came after finding instructions left behind by his master.  Jorut is familiar with “Hamato Splinter” and recalls a few of his Battle Nexus matches, including his fight with “Thotan”.  Along the way, Leo wanders onto a platform and is suddenly surrounded by six armed aliens, all of whom want to fight him.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 4) #25.  The story continues in TMNT (Vol. 4) #27.


This… oh, this was a tedious issue.  So much of the story involves the characters wandering around and talking to themselves, describing everything they’re doing in clumsy, excruciating detail.  Three freakin’ pages of Michelangelo eating space-corn and describing the texture and flavor to no one in particular.  And Leo… he’s just… plodding through the jungle, contemplating the tap water he left behind and then spending a whole page describing what it’s like to drink water.  TO DRINK WATER.

WHO are these characters talking to?  This is the kind of stuff better suited to an inner monologue; a thought balloon.  How the hell are the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles supposed to function as ninjas when apparently they talk loudly to themselves wherever they go?  No wonder the Triceratons and Jorut got the jump on them.

And the stuff they TALK about isn’t even remotely interesting.  Corn… water… why do we need to be reading this stuff?  And for three pages?  What takes Mikey three pages to contemplate and accomplish regarding his meal could have been covered in two panels and a thought bubble.  “Boy, I’m hungry.  Can I eat this?  Looks like the stuff in my prison food, so I guess so.”  There.  That is length and breadth of the content contained within Mikey’s meandering drivel.  But we get to suffer it for three damn pages.

It makes it hard to tell just what is significant and what isn’t in this comic.  Was the alien-deer sipping Earth tap water and freaking out of some narrative value?  Or was it just worthless bullshit like Leo taking 8 panels to sip water from a stream?  Was Metalhead reattaching his hair a plot germ that will bear fruit issues later?  Or was it just something that was there for no other reason than to BE there?

And beyond all that boring filler (and that’s what it is: FILLER.  Three pages of eating corn is FILLER), this issue has a bunch of lettering errors in it.  Sound effects aren’t italicized (making “Groan” sound like the name of a Triceraton), words in sentences are repeated (“Those are still on the on the stalk”), and words are misspelled (“If I don’t eat something some”).  This issue also features one of the worst abuses of the ellipses in all of Volume 4.  So much pointless dialogue and practically none of it ends with a period.  Characters are constantly rambling… rambling… rambling… even when they’re making declarative statements… and not talking to themselves… they still can’t use a period…

But alright, let’s talk about something else.  The Battle Nexus!

We’ll learn more about it in an issue or two, but in case you don’t remember, the Battle Nexus actually originated from the 4Kids TMNT cartoon that was airing at the time this comic was being published.  Since Laird had such a direct hand in grooming that show, he evidently felt no hesitation about adopting ideas from it for the Mirage comics.  Lots of 4Kids concepts would show up in Volume 4 and Tales Volume 2, from the Foot Mystics to Hun, but the Battle Nexus seemed like one of the biggest inclusions.

If this is the SAME Battle Nexus from the 4Kids cartoon, I don’t think we’ve ever found out.  With the Turtles all existing in a multiverse, where alternate versions of themselves can crossover and interact (as per Turtles Forever), you’d think there’d be only a single Battle Nexus.  But who knows, maybe there’s more.  I guess if the Turtles all have alternate versions of themselves across the multiverse, then the Daimyo and his court can have duplicates, too.  But again, we don’t know.

It begs a lot of questions.  Was the Splinter that Jorut saw participate in the Battle Nexus the Mirage Splinter?  Or was it the 4Kids Splinter?  Or a different Splinter?  And what does the Battle Nexus have to do with the mystery warriors attacking the Foot and trying to destroy that book they were publishing?

Nine years later and we still don’t know.

I’m trashing this issue pretty hard, but in all honesty it is not a good comic.  How someone can script three pages of Michelangelo eating corn and think “this is the Ninja Turtles story that NEEDS to be told!” I’ll just never understand.  But about six pages of content happen in this issue and the rest is filler.  Water-sipping, corn-chewing FILLER.


Anonymous said...

I'm surprised Laird would let all those errors in his comic. If ever read his blog posts on the 4Kids scripts, he was constantly pointing out when people made spelling and grammar errors. Did he just not care much about the comics at this point?

Adam said...

"What takes Mikey three pages to contemplate and accomplish regarding his meal could have been covered in two panels and a thought bubble. “Boy, I’m hungry. Can I eat this? Looks like the stuff in my prison food, so I guess so.” There. That is length and breadth of the content contained within Mikey’s meandering drivel."

You may have missed your calling as a comic book editor-in-chief.

Killer Moth said...

Laird also corrects the grammar of certain commenters whenever he does his "Ask PL" entries. (I'm sure he probably did some of that with the Volume 4 letters page, as well.) I do understand, as proper grammar can be rare online, and yet, what the first commenter on here said, "how can you do that when the comics you write aren't grammatically correct?"

As for the corn and the water, I can only think of a MST3K comment. Forget the episode, but it was basically said when a movie character was looking busy rather than actually doing something, "thrill as he looks!" Guess the exposition is just part of the usual Stan Lee homage Volume 4 has been doing, except even Lee wouldn't have done anything this boring. At least, describe something the audience might not understand, but I think we can figure out space corn just fine.

Wow, Mikey is incredibly verbose for someone who is supposed to be on the run and hungry. Guess that Triceraton prison food was brain food to him, or something.

(Huh, I didn't know Don ate hummus. Are hummus roll-ups any good, as I never ate hummus?)

Anonymous said...

It's pure dumb luck that I was going through your archives last week, so Mike and Leo's plights sounded familiar. That's right Raphael Bad Moon Riding #2 and I'm just going to quote the article.

"10 pages, a third of this comic, is spent on the characters wasting time at a convenience store. You know that bit I was just telling you about? Raph drinking the bottle of spirits? That’s 2 pages. TWO PAGES of Raph drinking a beverage."

What are the odds 2 different books, a main line and a miniseries, done by 2 different authors, with a year and a half between them would both get bogged down in wasting time on food. Unless we're suppose to lay this on Jim Lawson who did the pencils for both, but that feels like scapegoating.

Adam said...

One good thing I will say about this issue is that I've always liked the cover.

Granted, even that piece creates a strangely unsatisfying symmetry when the last cover features Leo walking INTO the Nexus portal while this issue features him walking OUT of it. I suppose that's a fairly appropriate symbol for late-run Volume 4 in microcosm... whereas a typical comic book might try to be clever by portraying a dimensional portal passage as a wrap-around cover, TMNT simply drags the seemingly mundane act out into a multi-issue EVENT. And even after you set both covers side by side, you still haven't learned anything about what Leonardo has gotten himself into. The TMNT #27 cover really should have just panned out so we could see who were holding the guns at Leo as he took another step forward.

Guille said...

Adam, one thing for sure is that one of the better things in volume 4 are the Dooney covers. And i believe he made them digitally, if i'm not mistaken, i remember reading it somewhere...