Saturday, November 14, 2015

TMNT (Vol. 4) #32


Publication date: May 4, 2014 (physical), May 9, 2014 (online)

Writing, lettering, toning: Peter Laird
Layouts, penciling: Jim Lawson
Inking: Eric Talbot, Steve Lavigne (credited in letters page)
Cover painting: Michael Dooney
Production assistance: Dan Berger

Summary:

On the Utrom moon island, Glurin and the mutated Raphael are in the gym, discussing Michelangelo’s disappearance.  After their workout, Glurin promises to continue using the Utrom resources to look for Mikey, while Raph decides to head back to the lair and see if Donatello can’t come up with something.

On Route 91, April is almost through Connecticut and will be arriving in Northampton soon.  She’s ecstatic about seeing Casey again.


In New York, Casey and Karai have finished having lunch together and Karai is giving him a lift home.  Casey still wants to know what happened after he passed out at her place, but Karai refuses to share the details.  She suggests that perhaps he should use this experience as a lesson against excessive drinking. 

Down in the lair, Raph can’t find Donnie so he follows Don’s scent down an obscure tunnel.

In the Battle Nexus, Leonardo, Oroku Yoshi, Jorut and E’ro’chk are getting a ride back to the living quarters. Along the way, Oroku Yoshi explains that the Warriors of Perfect Virtue (called the Virtuous, for short) are a race who view gender as a sin and thus bioengineered themselves to reproduce asexually.  They are fanatical in their religious devotion and have been amassing armies to conquer other worlds and spread their creed.  They also despise magic and sorcery.  At one point, Yoshi saved a mage from three of the Virtuous, killing two of them and chopping the hand off the other.  For this, he has been hounded by them ever since.


As the group breaks up to head to their quarters, Yoshi receives a hailbat message from a mysterious individual living in the Alarana district who wishes to remain nameless.  The individual requests that Yoshi bring Leonardo to him in the morning.

On the Styracodon planet of Maklar Votis, Michelangelo is busy using his new weapons to slaughter more Styracodon soldiers.  Evidently, this is the fourth Styracodon planet the Triceratons have conquered since beginning their campaign.  Captain T’Zirk compliments Mikey on his technique and brings him good news: The prison world where he and Azokk were held captive, Nurgostu, is next in line.  Mikey is thrilled, as he desperately wants revenge against the Regenta.


Down in the sewers, Raphael sniffs his way into Donatello’s secret lab.  There, he finds Donatello (shrunken and piloting his robot body) performing experiments on what looks like the corpse of Splinter floating in a tube.  Raphael loses it and begins savagely attacking Donatello for defiling their Master’s body, ripping Don’s robot body to pieces.  Working himself into a frenzy trying to catch the miniscule Donatello, Raph begins to feel woozy.  Suddenly, he starts to de-mutate and collapses onto the floor.


Later, Raph wakes up, back in his old Ninja Turtle form and lashed to the floor.  Don suggests that the flood of adrenaline caused his body to burn off the “vampire” toxins, thus restoring him to normal.  The ropes, however, are to keep him under control until Donnie can explain what’s going on.


Don says that during Splinter’s funeral, he took a DNA sample from his body.  When Raph became mutated by the fake vampires, he decided to use Splinter’s DNA to clone a mindless body.  The mutated blood in the cadaver would help him find a cure for Raph’s predicament (or so he thought).  However, as he studied the clone and compared its DNA with older samples of Splinter’s DNA (taken during an incident involving doppelgangers), Donatello came to a startling conclusion: The Splinter who died was NOT the real Splinter.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 4) #31.  As of now, this is the last issue of TMNT Volume 4.

*CHET ALERT: “Chet’s Toys” appears on Page 7.  “Chet” was an Easter egg the Mirage crew often threw into their comics because… they just liked the name!

*Donatello took the DNA sample from Splinter’s body in TMNT (Vol. 4) #11.

*Donatello mentions a battle against doppelgangers.  An editor’s note refers to this as an Untold Tale of the TMNT, so we don’t know anything else about that adventure.

*This issue was not released direct to market.  A free version was made available online via Peter’s Laird’s TMNT blog.  A physical copy was published, limited to 1000 copies, and sold via the Mirage Comics website.

*This issue also featured a blank sketch page and a bonus retrospective on the original Mirage offices in Sharon, Connecticut.


Review:

Well, here we are.  Seven years of blood, sweat, tears and other miscellaneous fluids and I’m finally done.  I’ve summarized, annotated and reviewed every Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic published by Mirage.

Now I can finally die.

So this is where we leave things off in the Mirage universe.  There are, of course, various stories set in the future of this timeline, but so far as the contemporary narrative is concerned, this is the termination point.  Will Laird continue Volume 4?  Will we get any answers?  A conclusion?

I dunno.  But it took almost five years just to get this issue, so I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you.

To go through the arcs one at a time, let’s start with Gameraph’s.  It looks like Raphael’s mutated monster days are over and I’m left wondering just what the heck was the point of it all?  What narrative purpose did it serve?  How did Raphael grow and learn and change from the experience?  What did it accomplish?

Fact of the matter is, the whole Gameraph arc amounted to absolutely nothing.  Raph turned into a monster and lumbered around for fifteen or sixteen issues and then unceremoniously returned to normal.  It only seemed to happen so that he’d have something to DO, even if it led nowhere.  Is Raph somehow a more humbled individual with a better handle on his rage, now that he’s seen his inner ugliness manifest on the outside and had to endure the consequences?  Nah.

April, Casey and Karai seem to be on target for an “awkward” moment.  Karai is dropping Casey off at his place just as April is returning home.  Karai asks to use his “facilities” while she’s there, too.  So, who wants to bet that just as April returns home and she and Casey have a heartfelt reunion, Karai steps out of the bathroom and April’s all “What’s SHE doing here!?” ...?

Hmm, maybe Laird doesn’t have to write another issue; the plots seem to telegraph themselves pretty intuitively.

Then there’s Leo, Oroku Yoshi, the Virtuous and what appears to be Splinter… maybe even the REAL Splinter?  I’ll save my Splinter talk for a moment, but as for Leo, he’s putting together some of the details about the Virtuous and their assault on the Foot Clan.  From what we’ve seen, it appears that the Foot have been trying to publish a book of spells and the Virtuous, in both their zeal to conquer other worlds and to eliminate all sorcery, have begun waging war on the Foot Clan.

Is that really it?  A flimsy “world domination” scheme?  I’ve got to believe there’s more to it than that.  We still don’t know what was up with Karai’s “odd” behavior, as Leo described it.  Is she under some sort of control?  Is that why she’s messing with Casey?  Does it have anything to do with anything?

I guess these plots aren’t telegraphing themselves as much as I suggested they were.

Mikey is going bonkers up in space, slaughtering Styracodons left and right, conquering planets and loving the hell out of it.  I want to think that there’s something else to it, like maybe he’s being manipulated emotionally by the Triceratons to use his skills as a weapon, because Mikey is just a pure psychopath at this point.  If there isn't some contrivance to explain his blood-thirsty lunacy, then it's just way out of character.

And that brings us to Donatello.  With his robot body destroyed, hopefully that means he’ll be getting back to his normal size sometime soon (if we get any further installments).  I’m glad to see that in this “final” issue of the series, we got at least ONE solid (or somewhat solid) answer to a lingering mystery: What Donatello took from Splinter’s body during the funeral.  It leads into yet another mystery, sure, but something is better than nothing.

The big bombshell is that the Splinter who died and was cremated was not the real Splinter.  We’re being led to believe that the Splinter in the Battle Nexus is the real one, then (though it could play out differently).

I don’t want to jump ahead of myself, but I also don’t want to wait another five years to talk about it, so I’ll just say that I’m really not big on the idea that Splinter is still alive and his death was just a fake-out.  That’s some straight up Marvel/DC comic book storytelling; the meaningless death done for shock value and then undone a little while later.  I hate that sort of thing and I’d hoped TMNT was better than that.

Laird also drops an “Untold Tale of the TMNT” reference in there, which at this point I find utterly baffling.  He produces maybe 3 issues of TMNT a decade and he’s dropping references to stories from the past that will be revealed at a later date?  Man, it’ll be a miracle if Volume 4 ever sees completion, much less a bunch of Tales bonus stories.

If it makes anybody feel any better, Jim Lawson did post this pin-up online earlier this year.  He calls it the “last scene of Volume 4”, albeit with the qualifier that it may wind up being a “what if” scenario since Volume 4 is still incomplete and things could change.  Be that as it may, this is probably as near to closure as we’re going to get:


Take your time and let everything in that pin-up sink in.  Them's some ugly babies.

Anyway, I’m now all out of Mirage comics to review.  I’ve got some odds and ends left, like a bunch of UK comics, and the IDW series is still ongoing, of course.  But with Archie, Image and now Mirage out of the way, most of my work here is done.  I guess I’ll focus primarily on the cartoons and movies from here on out.

Quite frankly, I never thought I’d make it this far.



18 comments:

Chris Arndt said...

Congratulations

Anonymous said...

And so Mirage ends with a whimper...
Congratulations on finishing the TMNT back issues.

Guille said...

A big congratulations and thank you for doing this. You've done a lot for us turtle fans and it's my "go to" place for information on Turtle Comics and always recommend it when possible.
In relation to Lawson's pin-up and Mikey's story, Mikey is so far off, that it would be weird if he just goes back to "sane" just like that for seeing one of his children and the Regenta explaining that she didn't have anything to do with his imprisonment. Not a very good storytelling, but i guess that's a possible ending for that story. Let's hope not. Or yes. I don't know, i just hope it ends.
Thank you again and congratulations!

TJ Reynolds said...

Thank you. I disagree with you as often as I agree, but your writings are so well thought out and enlightened and critical, they have been enriching. I still have many of your archives to go through yet. And I always check your reviews after I have read each new issue.

Cheers,

TJ

Anonymous said...

I like in the pinup how Raph and Don are completely unchanged.

Anonymous said...

I often bring up that since Volume 4 started way back in the ancient year of 2001, most of us have been waiting 15 years for this series to reach a conclusion. I was like 15 years old in High School when Volume 4 started...I am now a 30 year old adult.

So whose audience is this being aimed at? If a 15 year old can turn into a 30 year old over the span Volume 4 was going, doesn't that mean nobody but the most hardcore TMNT fans would even care about this series at this point? I mean my god. Half my life went by in the span this comic series was going and it still hasn't had its end.

Its kinda sad because it is essentially the end of the Mirage universe, I doubt IDW will ever seriously make new stories in the Mirage era besides short-stories or crossover events, so we'll likely never see the "original" TMNT universe have a proper end.

If by some miracle PL finishes Volume 4 let's hope it doesn't take another 15 years. I don't want to be a 45 year old man reading the end of a comic series that I started as a 15 year old.

Anonymous said...

There are some more books you could review (namely comics with cameos by the Turtles and some non-comic books centered on TMNT), but for now, you deserve a rest.

BulletTooth504 said...

End of a freakin era.

Thanks for taking the time to write up all these reviews. Saves me the money and aggravation of tracking down issues and then being disappointed by them.

I have a good news/bad news interpretation of the "last scene". The bad: the No Girl Turtle policy would've been violated by introducing Venus. The good: she would die (hopefully badly, but hilariously) after squeezing out some eggs.

Looking forward to reading your take on future issues and everything else TMNT.

Dom Clark said...

Well done on completing all the mirage reviews. A lot of hard work! I actually really enjoyed volume 4. Sure there are a lot of dead ends and non starters. The vampires and Mikes current blood lust but I really enjoyed it and certainly hope it gets finished. That final pic is a good one. Mikes half cast kids and Don back to normal.

Thanks for all the hard work with your round ups and reviews and look forward to seeing what else u put up.

Nacho ! said...

Thanks for all your hard work. I must say that i am a big fan of the mirageverse, but when i read your post i ask myself if it is worth for me to be a fan of that version.

I mean, i have enjoyed volueme 4, yes, it was a pain to wait to much for the last issues. Maybe you are more logical when reading a book while i am more emotional, i do not know.

I collect the canon comics, i just need one to finish my collection, it is an expensive comics, but man, i am not sure if i have to pay for that issue when peter is not interested in finishing this volume.

Take care!!

Anonymous said...

You deserve the award of greatest TMNT fan ever.

Ryu said...

Congratulations! I really enjoyed your reviews after reading each story myself. Are you going to review Odyssey soon? If I remember this correctly you already own the softcover version.

Guillaume Dubreuil said...

Congratulations for your dedicated work Mark and thanks again !

I am yet to read volume 4 (in spite of having all issues but #29).
Based on your reviews, I do not have great expectations so I can only be happily surprised :).

Cheers,

Guillaume

Anonymous said...

So does this mean that Karai raped Casey?

SheHe Man said...

Wil she really

Chris Arndt said...

Yes

Anonymous said...

Thanks for completing this! Amazing!

Why do you suppose Mikey is holding a rifle why his children are running around playing?

-Rooish

John Kiss said...

I like Jim Lawsons "last scene" but in my interpretation based off of many mirage themes through out time this scene almost seems like 1 scene before the last. Everyone gets to see each other in harmony right before one final event that seperates them all.