Sunday, September 6, 2015

TMNT (Vol. 4) #28

Publication date: June, 2006

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


2:00pm in the small town of Swelfield.  Everyone is going about their daily lives when they suddenly vanish into thin air.  Twenty minutes later, they reappear, lined up neatly in the streets.  The residents awaken with no idea what happened.

In the Battle Nexus, Leonardo and the Shredder continue battling the mutated deer-creature.  Leo ends the fight by slicing off its head and the six warriors whom he faced earlier compliment his skill.  They tell him that the beast was a mogrithene, a creature that is mutated when it drinks the waters of passage and is drawn to attack the one who used those waters (Leo).  The warriors leave and Jorut tells Leo that they are called Challacha: Warriors who roam the Battle Nexus seeking informal, non-mortal combat with other warriors.

Leo is less concerned with them and more concerned with the presence of the Shredder.  Jorut doesn’t understand Leo’s contempt for the armored warrior, who removes his helmet and reveals himself to be the quite-friendly Oroku Yoshi.  Leo is confused.

Michelangelo finishes up his dental surgery onboard the Triceraton Combat Cruiser, the Kaitoxa.  With his new teeth in place, he heads to the command center to speak with Commander T’Zirk.  T’Zirk tells Mike that they’re headed back to the Triceraton Homeworlds, as the Prime Leader would like to speak to the Turtle.  Mikey figures that Zanramon has a score to settle with him, but T’Zirk explains that Zanramon was booted out of office shortly after the Turtles had their historic battle with the Triceraton All-Stars in the Tri-Sports Arena.  Evidently, the death of the All-Stars was a major blow to their military forces and Zanramon fronted much of the blame for that fiasco.

T’Zirk also thanks Mikey for informing him about Azokk’s death, though he won’t open up as to what exactly Azokk was doing in the Styracodon prison.  Mikey is surprised at how reasonable the Triceratons are acting, given their history.  T’Zirk says that they aren’t all brutes and are a highly advanced civilization.  He laments that the Utroms and their secret police, the Utrom Secreti, have spent years trying to hold them back by preventing them from developing transmat technology on their own.  The Utrom Secreti evidently disguise themselves with Triceraton exo-suits and sabotage their labs and assassinate their scientists.

Even more surprising, Mikey learns that he and his brothers became celebrities among the Triceratons after their battle in the arena, even getting an animated holo-series called “Savage Shelliens”.  T’Zirk and his commandos adapted a new martial arts style from watching footage of the Turtles, called “T’Jat Uhasil”, or “Soft Kill”.  It favors smaller size and quicker strikes over brute strength.

As it happens, T’Zirk was a guard ordered to retake the Fugitoid and lost his eye while fighting the Turtles.  Rather than hold a grudge, he was impressed enough by their skill to adapt their abilities to his race.  He takes Mikey to the training room and introduces him to the other commandos.  A young commando, Zong, refuses to believe that the scrawny Turtle is one of the famed warriors who brought down the All-Stars.  Through with being pushed around, Mikey grabs some nunchakus from off the racks and challenges Zong to a sparring match.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 4) #27.  The story continues in TMNT (Vol. 4) #29.

*The Turtles fought the Triceraton All-Stars in the Tri-Sports Arena in TMNT (Vol. 1) #6.  The editor’s note mistakenly lists the issue as TMNT #5.

*More on the Utrom Secreti can be seen in the short back-up strip, “Apocalypse Vow” and its sequels.

*This was the last issue of Volume 4 to be sold direct-to-market and distributed via Diamond.


For a lot of fans, this was the last issue of TMNT Volume 4.  From this point forward, Volume 4 would no longer be sold in comic shops, but instead only be made available directly from the Mirage website or a related outlet (such as Steve Lavigne’s Facebook page).  This also began the “Ultimate Hiatus” for Volume 4, where the book would be published incredibly infrequently; sometimes as long as five years between installments.

Following Volume 4 from here on out hasn’t been easy.  You have to forever keep your ear to the ground, lest you miss the brief window of opportunity to purchase a new issue (only 1000 copies would be produced of each subsequent installment).  That means stalking the Mirage website, checking out Laird’s TMNT blog every month, subscribing to Steve Lavigne’s Facebook page or just eternally hanging out at TMNT forums in the hopes that somebody else will notice and alert you as to when a new Volume 4 issue becomes available.

So you can understand why this is “the last issue” for a lot of people.  I continue to see eBay listings of “TMNT Volume 4 Complete Run” that end at #28.  And I don’t blame them.  Following the series after this is not a leisurely affair.

Exactly what led Laird to put the series on indefinite hiatus following this issue, I don’t know, though I’ve read it was mostly “burnout”.  He was overseeing every aspect of the brand through the 2000s, from the cartoon to the toyline to the comics to the CG movie, and I think this is about when he finally broke.  Something had to give, so he cut the comic loose, apparently.

Though even after he sold his stake in the TMNT to the Viacom corporation in 2009, it’s not like new issues of Volume 4 suddenly began flowing like wine.  I think we’ve gotten one or two since then.  Perhaps he’s just lost interest with the Ninja Turtles, or at least with finishing this storyline.  But I’m no mind-reader.

Whatever the case may be, this particular issue initiates several new storylines, which is more than a little frustrating, considering it’s so close to “the end” of the series, or what we have so far, that none of these new ideas are ever explored while the older ones are never resolved.

To discuss what’s in this issue: I can’t say a damn thing about Swelfield because we never learn a damn thing about the incident.  I had forgotten it even happened until I reread this issue just now. 

As for Leo and Oroku Yoshi, we don’t learn too much on that end, either.  It’s a fight scene, a sort of stupid one, and I guess Oroku Yoshi is an alternate universe version of Oroku Saki/Hamato Yoshi.  That much is obvious, since it’s the Battle Nexus and all, but any specifics will be glossed over.  He’s drawn in the style of the 4Kids animated series Shredder, which made for an okay fake-out for readers between issues (left you thinking Mirage Leo was about to fight 4Kids Shredder).

It does make me wonder, though.  In the first or second installment of the Battle Nexus five-parter in the 4Kids cartoon, the Turtles walk among statues of previous champions and they see one of the Shredder.  Or what looks like the Shredder.  But we never learn any further details about that.  Was it the Utrom Shredder who fought in the Battle Nexus?  Was it the Demon Shredder?  Or was it Oroku Yoshi?

Mysteries, mysteries.

Mikey gets the most page space in this issue and it is ALL exposition.  The sequence is nothing but T’Zirk regaling Mikey with an update on Triceraton history between the Tri-Sports Arena battle and now.  I’m not saying the stuff isn’t interesting, but it remains an info-dump of the worst kind.  World-building is cool when it’s organic to the narrative, not when the characters sit down to a dissertation about the history of their universe for the benefit of the audience.

The brief tie-in to Steve Murphy’s Professor Obligado serial was the coolest part, since I really loved that storyline.  I don’t think we ever get any further details about it in Volume 4, alas, but the synergy between TMNT Volume 4 and Tales Volume 2 was momentarily exciting.  I love the idea of evil Utroms, or at least a nefarious Utrom shadow ops group, and that’s something I could have done with seeing more of.  It sort of turns the familiar on its head, as the previously “evil” Triceratons are shown to be more peaceful and reasonable, while the “benevolent” Utroms are revealed to be shady as fuck.

But, again, more ideas introduced and never followed up on.  Such a cocktease.

We’re getting down to the wire with Volume 4, but I ought to save my closing thoughts for when I get to the for-real last issue (or the last issue published).  Sometimes even I forget that this wasn’t the REAL last issue of the series.

Just the last issue anybody read.


Anonymous said...

I get the feeling the people disappearing and re-appearing in that one panel was meant to be for a Tales of the TMNT story, and not something intended for the main Volume 4 narrative. PL had been constantly retconning new Tales of the TMNT stories in Volume 4, (such as an asterisk saying "This happened in a yet untold Tales of the TMNT") and I get the feeling that was intended for that scene too, but who knows.

Its a shame it takes Leonardo's story literally 20 issues to get to the point of alternate dimension characters and this is when Volume 4 was dropped. I mean this started back with those Warriors killing Foot Soldiers and Karai acting strangely along with that Al Gore president on the coin and it all led to this Battle Nexus. And then PL stopped. Goddamn.

Blood Island said...

Peter Laird apparently forgot that Prime Leader Zanramon was killed in the crossfire back in TMNT Volume 1 Issue #6 (or maybe it was #7) as the Turtles make their escape. Zanramon DEAD, man, not just blamed for the carnage. Deader than Lincoln.

Unknown said...

So there's two more issues sold via the Web and two after that published only on the Internet?

Adam said...

Going to the dentists is unnerving for most of us. Going to the inter-galatic space dentist is comic book cover worthy.

Mark Pellegrini said...


#29-32 all have print editions run at 1000 copies each, though it gets a little confusing as to when they were published and the timing with the digital versions.

#29, free digital copy (now offline) and limited print run released simultaneously.
#30, free digital copy (now offline) and limited print run released simultaneously.
#31, free digital copy (via Laird's blog) released.
#32, free digital copy (via Laird's blog) released.
#32, limited print run released on Free Comic Day.
#31, limited print run released on Free Comic Day.

Yes, the print version of #31 was released after #32. I'll have to do some research to get all the dates together, but I'll collect all that info as I write my reviews for the issues.

Chet said...

And there was a new TMNT logo on the cover, which looks somewhat identical to the one of the CGI flick TMNT, released a year after this comic came out.

Anonymous said...

My god the cover date is June 2006...that's nearly a decade ago now. Weird, I thought Volume 4 continued until 2007 before the 4th movie but I guess he stopped regularly publishing it a year before.

So from June 2006 to 2015...we only got 4 more issues of Volume 4. That's 9 years and only 4 issues since. What the hell.

Unknown said...

And 4000 copies.

No wonder so many never read 29 and 30

Anonymous said...

@Blood Island To be fair all we know is that Zanramon was shot in the chest, and that one of the Turtles said he was died. He easily could have just been wounded and and survived.

Anonymous said...

the great future that peter laird did never end up publishing:

michelangelo takes part in a genocide, the refugees try to escape to earth, humans begin to hate aliens, integalactic crisis, turtles must live again in hideouts or move (to another planet or dimension).
krang is leader of corrupt utrom secret police. michelangelo is torn between what he would like the world to be and to what it and he have become, he will have many inner monologues about it leading to nothing.
donatello gets captured by a corrupt human puppeteer and must play in a puppet theatre. most plays he has to play are overly dramatic adaptions of old greek classics leading to inner monologues of don that lead to nothing.
raphael beats the leader of the vampires and becomes their new leader. they start a secret guerilla warfare against racist humans, raphael doesn't have inner monologues, he screams out what he wants!
the footclan joins human warfare against aliens.
leonardo meets splinter in the battle nexus, he is really irritated, splinter happy and senile, one day leo wakes up as a young teenage human on earth where humans hunt aliens and mutants. he will see all the racism and violence, will lead many monologues that lead to nothing.
casey finds the magic pencil and draws himself a new april. he can't draw well.
april will fall in love! finally. with an alien. that alien's skin is actually the material that made the magic pen possible. this magic power enables april to have a child of her wishes. she wants turtle twins. and names them after her four most favourite american football players.

it is amazing actually that laird failed to finish volume 4. if you look at volume 1, where you had a greta first big bang story, some obscure but also some good single shot issues, and two great longer stories (return of shredder and escape out of new york, and then the epic return to new york saga). i feel like whatever happened between laird and eastman killed the turtles.
the stuff that made the ninja turtles great was mostly created in collaboration between those two. when they don't work together the results are flawed, often lacking a proper balance. but what we could see in recent published classic collections, the turtle stories where preplanned by laird and eastman. volume 4 really feels like it could have used so much more preplanning of dramaturgy. it really really sucks.

Nacho said...

@Anonymous, Zanramon survived, it was told in one of the issues.

Anonymous said...

@Nacho Nacho, it was? In which issue did they reveal he was still alive?