Wednesday, February 24, 2016

TMNT (IDW) #55

Publication date: February 24, 2016

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow and Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Michael Dialynas
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams

"Order from Chaos, Part 5"


Down in the ruins of the original sewer lair, Michelangelo finds himself consumed with nostalgia.  He recalls playing video games with Raphael and making a Father’s Day card for Splinter.  Looking at all the smashed Mousers, he wonders how things all went so wrong.

On a rooftop, Alopex confides in Angel that she hasn’t been feeling herself, lately.  She feels like there’s something in the back of her head, diverting her concentration.  Angel suggests that after they complete Harold’s intel mission, she get a full night’s sleep.

Turk and Maze of the Street Phantoms then appear down below and the two get to work.  Going into Nobody mode, Angel tells Alopex to distract the Phantoms and get a good example of their cloaks’ phasing powers while she records from the rooftop.  Alopex takes a few blows on the chin, but ultimately Nobody gets the footage and the two depart without further engaging the Phantoms.

At Cleary’s Irish Pub and Restaurant, the O’Neil family and Casey are celebrating April’s graduation.  Now that she has her degree, she hopes to combine that with her Stockgen intern experience for a good job.  Mr. and Mrs. O’Neil are just about done with remodeling the Second Time Around shop and politely promise Casey that they’re willing to give him as much time off as he needs to go back to school.  Casey declines the offer, much to April’s annoyance, and the dinner begins to get awkward.

At Foot HQ, Alopex brings Kitsune her dinner, but before she leaves, the witch uses her psychic powers to stop her.  Kitsune makes Alopex see her new friends as just an evolution of the bear that pursued her back when she was a normal fox.  As a "fellow fox", Kitsune reminds her that she must be sly and wait for her chance to strike back against the bears that pursue them.  Mesmerized, Alopex agrees and stumbles out into the hall with no memory of the discussion.  As she goes to her room, Splinter watches her from the shadows.

Outside the Second Time Around shop, April and Casey sit in the van and argue.  April is furious that Casey won’t go back to school while Casey is sick of being henpecked all the time.  As a pedestrian passes by, he tosses a can on the ground which incites Casey to start beating him up for littering.  April stops him and demands to know why he’s become so unhinged lately.

Casey explains that the Rat King showed him how weak he really was and so all he cares about now is making sure that the people he loves are safe.  And that means keeping the neighborhood clean of any crime, large or small.  April admonishes him, saying that the better way to fight crime is with your brain and this devolves into a petty feud about Casey’s intellect vs. April's high-and-mighty attitude.  By the time all is said and done, the two break up.

On Burnow Island, Harold contacts the Fugitoid and asks him if he’s sure he wants to go through with their plan.  Fugitoid agrees that the Turtles likely won’t be onboard with it, but that they owe their mysterious benefactor for saving Donatello’s life and must honor the bargain.  Fugitoid asks if Harold will be joining the Turtles when they come to visit, but while fussing with some cloth, Harold says he has other projects to concern himself with.

Down in the old sewer lair, Mikey finishes cleaning up and gets a surprise visit from his brothers.  They’ve brought a pizza (courtesy of Woody) and tell him that even if Mikey doesn’t want anything to do with the Foot Clan, they should still be a family.  They ask Mikey to join them on their trip to Burnow Island, no Foot attached, and a joyful Mikey accepts their offer.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #54.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #56.

*Old Hob destroyed the original sewer lair in TMNT (IDW) #7.

*Alopex’s origins as a normal fox, and her battle with the bear, were seen in TMNT Villains Micro-Series #4: Alopex.

*The pedestrian throws a can of Armacola on the ground.  The mascot is a shark-man.  You put it together.

*This issue was originally published with 7 variant covers: Regular Cover by Dialynas, Incentive Cover by Ben Bishop, Subscription Cover by Eastman and Pattison, Eastman Fun Club Edition by Eastman, and 3 Blindbox Exclusives (Splinter, and two different Michelangelos) by Robert Atkins and Simon Gough.


This self-contained story doesn’t feel too self-contained on the surface, as it furthers plot arcs that have been going on for years now, but there’s a consistent theme that runs through each segment.  Chiefly, it involves the symmetry of reunions and breakups.  Mikey and his brothers reconcile while Casey and April call it quits.  Kitsune turns Alopex against her friends while Fugitoid and Harold are forced to make strange bedfellows with their benefactor (Leatherhead, but no one will come out and say it).  So while the issue does feel like just another chapter in the serialized plot, there’s an idea uniting all the stories contained within.

There’s a nice compromise with Mikey reconciling with his brothers while still keeping his distance from Splinter and the Foot.  And I’m glad they didn’t drag Mikey’s estrangement out for too long.  This is the fourth go-around we’ve had with “Turtle is separated from the others” in this series since it started.  Raph got amnesia, Leo got brainwashed, Don got crippled, and Mikey got, uh, sad.  It’s a song and dance we’re maybe too familiar with by now and the well’s practically drawing sand, so let’s just get the band back together and forgo any further delays.  But, like I said, they found a compromise that got the Turtles back together (AGAIN) without undermining the integrity of Mikey’s moral dilemma.

But now that they’re back together, here’s hoping they can stay together for more than a year.  Each Turtle has had their turn getting separated from the pack, so maybe it’s out of everyone’s system.  Although I guess there’s always a possibility of a “Splinter gets kidnapped by aliens” storyline and we’ll have to go through this all again.  Hey, he’s got a history of getting kidnapped by aliens, so it’s not too far out of the question.

Angel/Nobody and Alopex as a dynamic duo needs more page-time; I’d dig a one-shot that’s just their escapades (with Harold’s ever-present harrumphing) from cover to cover.  As with the Mutanimals, they’re another case of interesting characters with a lot of potential who can’t find any elbow room in the already packed ongoing.  But while the Mutanimals managed to land their own two-parter recently, Angel & Alopex: Guardians of a Six Block Radius haven’t merited such a dedicated storyline. 

Obviously not everybody can have their own miniseries, but a one-shot would do wonders in developing their friendship and situation.  Thus far, all we ever see of them is their making small talk while on the job, then beating someone up, and then disappearing until it’s time for more small talk.  With the setup involving the Street Phantoms and Harold’s connections to them, I’ve got my fingers crossed for a storyline that will involve the pair more intimately sometime soon.

That’s assuming Kitsune doesn’t make Alopex betray everyone before then, but she’s been threatening to do that for, like, thirty years now.  Either put up or shut up, lady!

April and Casey are over.  For now, anyway.  And that just makes me wonder to a greater extent exactly why the Casey & April miniseries was a necessary detour.  This issue explains that the Rat King’s psychological torment of Casey is what turned him into a loon and ultimately strained his relationship with April.  Okay, that’s certainly fair.  But it also completely undermines the message of the Casey & April miniseries, which ended with the two confirming their love for one another and promising to overcome whatever gets in their way so they can be together.  Read this arc directly after Casey & April and the pair are now immediately doing the exact opposite of what they vowed.

The direct references to the events of that mini try to justify what’s going on, all while completely contradicting the spirit of that narrative.  If anything, it makes the Casey & April miniseries feel even further disconnected from the ongoing series.  This fight revolves around lingering frustrations that have been developing between the two for years, but Casey & April already resolved those arguments.  Yet now they’re suddenly and inexplicably back to square one.  It’s almost like you shouldn’t read that miniseries or something (because it’s terrrrrrrible).

All that being said, I thought the argument (that goes on for 6 pages!) was pretty evenly distributed in terms of the blame game.  Waltz doesn’t string one person up as a bad guy, but instead both April and Casey have points while both are making asses of themselves.

April acts like going to college and getting a degree is the end all, be all of a person’s worth and anyone who isn’t interested in that is wasting their lives.  A pretty condescending and hurtful attitude, and she HAS been henpecking Casey about going back to college for a while.  You can see how all her nagging has really chipped away at him and he’s finally had enough; Casey knows what he’s good at and wants to focus on those strengths, not slavishly follow the path his girlfriend is trying to force him down.  Pulling the "This is MY store and MY neighborhood and MY family" card to try and make Casey feel ostracized and extra worthless was an extremely low blow, too.

Casey, for his part, is definitely becoming unhinged and acting more and more criminal in his zeal to keep his loved ones safe.  It’s sort of a throwback to the Casey of the Fred Wolf cartoon, who would chase around jaywalkers and litterbugs with baseball bats, but played straight.  Casey was hired as security for the Second Time Around shop and he’s certainly showing initiative and passion for his job, but he’s on the fast track to becoming as much of a dangerous thug as the people he’s fighting.

So yeah, both of them are acting like idiots and, again, it’s really nice to see faults in both sides of an argument.  It seems like so many writers out there choose a horse in whatever race beforehand and wind up casting one individual as “wrong” and the other as “right”.  That formula makes such arguments a bore to read; if all we’re doing is observing the right party preach about how right they are and the wrong party listen to how wrong they are, it’s not an argument, it's a fuckin sermon.

And lastly, there’s something going down on Burnow Island.  The characters don’t want to say “Leatherhead” out loud and the comic continues to be really coy about him.  Come on, who are they kidding?  We know it’s the giant alligator-man; they’ve shown us about 35% of his body already.  Enough beating around the bush.  But ah well.  Thirty more days.  We've waited THIS long.

Dialynas departs with this issue and he’s been a solid artist for his three installments.  While the scripts he was given were very Michelangelo-centric, he’s shown great adaptability with all the other main characters in the series (at least one of each appears briefly in these three issues).  While the Santolouco/Smith on/off duo are the ideal team, Dialynas did a great job of adhering to their aesthetic while also implementing his own visual gimmicks to make his style stand out.  Hopefully we’ll see more of him when Santolouco or Smith aren’t on the job.

This was a good one-shot and maybe with the new five-issue trade paperback format we’ll start seeing more of these shorter length arcs and episodic adventures mixed in with the longer stuff.  While I do think the ongoing is rapidly running out of room for all its characters, that’s mostly a matter of the book having too many interesting characters for 22 pages a month to contain.

Grade: B- (as in, “Because I wouldn’t mind a second ongoing series.  I mean, if Transformers can have two complementary ongoings then certainly Ninja Turtles can pull it off.  And if they had to axe Amazing Adventures to make it work, well, I’m not saying I’d celebrate or anything, but…”)


Anonymous said...

I wonder if they'll go with the cliche, Casey hooks up with Angel because they're both "badass" and "childhood friends" while his breakup with April is in duration. I wouldn't mind to be honest, but I can't say I didn't see it coming.

For this series Casey/Angel would probably work a lot better than Casey/April anyway. Thank god TMNT doesn't have an active female shipper community though, or else we'd be seeing ship wars and death threats on tumblr for April/Casey breaking up and vowing to boycott the series because their OTP has split up. And how Angel "stole Casey away from April."


God knows how much the TMNT fandom has been spared a shipper community over the last 30 years.

Killer Moth said...

I had to deal with the shipper wars that came with the 2003 Teen Titans animated series during its heyday, so I can only agree or nod alongside the first Anon. (However, don't underestimate the power of the Turtlecest shippers, but that's another topic for another day.) And, to put on my shipper hat for a second, I'd also be perfectly fine with Casey/Angel, as the two have a more serious/stronger rapport than Casey/April, anyway. If only Waltz cultivated that more as "didn't Casey once save Angel's life from becoming a dead end or stopped her before she ended up in jail," or so she said during City Fall. Love to see a flashback to that or having a one-shot issue to herself, like Mark said.

Not much to say about the issue other than "hey, Fugitoid or Angel still exist", plus the Casey/April breakup scene being well done for the reasons Mark described.

I'd rather discuss the Armacola -- what would it taste like? I imagine it being akin to Mountain Dew or maybe the late lamented Surge? Actually, the fact of Armaggon being used to pitch soda drinks amuses me beyond all measure.

Anonymous said...

Ouch, guess we know where you stand on Amazing Adventures now.

Can't blame you, though. You guys are free from the shackles of the show! Mix it up! At least leave New York for a while!

Unknown said...

I love how Splinter seems to be on top of things in terms of being suspicious of Kitsune and Alopex. I would hate to have a comic going into the cliche of, "I trusted you. Not in a million years did I think you would betray us," kind of deal. Also, I would like to know if the foot have gotten better with their ninja skills when Splinter is training them. It would be interesting to have an issue or at least half an issue to see the foot soldiers' point of view.

Anonymous said...

From what I hear the shipper wars for Harry Potter, Avatar/Legend of Korra, Pokemon, and Naruto are some of the absolute worst.

Can you believe there are people who have debates and flamewars that go on for literally YEARS over which two fictional characters get together? And if its a ship that happens that they don't like, these people go on a rampage and issue death threats towards the writers and vow to disown the series?

And these are all fully grown adults in their 20's and 30's too, not even talking about teenagers. Like why don't you guys worry about your real life relationships than what goes on in a fictional series.

Imagine if TMNT fans had to deal with this for 30 years.

Anonymous said...

Shippers can be annoying, but it is when the writers start bending over backwards for the shippers that things go to hell (cough*Arrow*cough). I don't believe IDW TMNT will ever fall into that trap though.

Chet said...

So, Armaggon won't be showing up in this book? Too bad...

Anonymous said...

This issue would have been a solid A for me if they cut out all the mopey Casey bits. I really want Casey, April, and April's mind numbingly lame parents to disappear from the comic completely.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I wish April's parents stayed in Northampton. I'm really not sure what the point of bringing them to New York are. There's too many pages wasted on them.

This book is already way too overcrowded with characters as it is. Between the evergrowing Mutanimals, Karai, Baxter, Bebop/Rocksteady, Koya/Bludgeon, whenever Krang comes back, Kitsune, The Rat King, Street Phantoms, and soon Leatherhead and And then all the hero characters.

Hope34 said...

Meh its to typical that why i love the 80s no shippers. The story wasn't that great. Alpoex superheronen not ok . Call this lazy writing

Unknown said...

Yes! The turtles reunite! I hearted that scene

Chet said...

Saw a trailer for the upcoming TMNT videogame 'Mutants In Manhattan'. It's based on the IDW designs, which looks pretty damn cool. The big surprise in there was the appearance of an Archie-style Armaggon. So I wonder if the people at IDW are planning of using him in the ongoing after all...

Adam said...

Armacola! Love it!

I'm one who is looking forward to seeing April and Casey go their separate ways. I'd like to see them become strong distinct characters in this TMNT-verse, even if that means they aren't always shown as often or together. I've not seen anything in this comic that proves they are better together than apart. If there's one thing the infamous mini-series accomplished, it was that it seemed to convince the readers of that fact.

And was it just me or did this "stand alone" issue that aspires to set up future narrative threads read a lot like an average issue of Mirage Volume 4?

MarkRodriguez09 said...

It kinda would be interested to see if Casey gets with Angel. Angel isn't really all that into schoolin' other and it's mostly April's talk about school that's getting to him.

Although I just don't see that Angel was ever into Casey and vice versa. Plus she doesn't strike me as the type to 'take him away from April' or want to start any kind of drama with April.

Some Guy said...

Man, I hate to sound like I'm beating a dead horse here...especially when I'm commenting four years after both the issue and these reviews were published but, you keep mentioning it so I'm going to counter-point it one more time (and hopefully after this going back to my regular, positive, optimistic, and excited comments).

Just because April and Casey kissed at the end of the mini-series does not mean that everything is copacetic between them. They had just shared a pretty life-changing experience... I would proabably make out with whomever I went through that with. I actually thought the break up here was very mature considering the assumed age of these individuals. Most people in their late teens / early twenties would continue on even though it doesn't work simply because of their unique experiences with mutants and mythological beings. I mean, fighting and then wanting to remain together and trying to make it work even when you know it won't is basically 99% of what romantic relationships are about..especially for kids in their age bracket.

But, yeah, this was definitely what the entire Casey/April mini-series was about and the only reason I would ever recommend reading through it again (because it wasn't a very good story) would be to see this point. I think you may have been blinded by the art-style mimicing "manga" as you mentioned before but as someone who is not familiar with that genre, I got something about 180 degrees different than you have described out of that book.

Anyway, love your reviews and I'm going to keep re-reading along with you years later...