Sunday, July 3, 2016

TMHT Poster Mag #2

Publication date: June 8, 1991

Story: Uncredited
Art, inks, colors: Staz Johnson


Down in the lair, the Turtles are enjoying a dagger-throwing contest which Raphael handily wins by way of his sai.  April then shows up and tells them that diamond dealer Guggenheim is about to have his annual costume ball, and in the wake a recent string of diamond robberies, she fears the ball will be the next target.  Master Splinter meditates on this and then suggests that the Turtles attend the ball in disguise.  After seeing April off, the Turtles argue over what their costumes should be, but Splinter has a humbling suggestion.

The following night, at the ball, the Turtles show up in drag as the Four Ugly Sisters.  They don't have to wait long, as a man in a gorilla suit reveals himself to be the Shredder, while several of the guests unmask and reveal themselves as Foot Soldiers.  They begin robbing the guests until the Turtles take action and destroy all the Foot Soldiers.  Cornered, Shredder grabs April and puts a knife to her throat, but Raph disarms him with a careful throw of his sai.  Defeated and diamond-less, the Shredder escapes through a window.  The remaining guests marvel at how brave and resourceful those four ugly women are.

After the ball, the Turtles and April return to the lair to tell Splinter the whole story.  Michelangelo then reveals that he won a year's supply of free pizza vouchers as first prize in the costume contest.  He decides to split the prize with April and she tells him he's a real "jewel".

Turtle Tips:

*This issue is continued from TMHT Poster Mag #1.  The series continues in TMHT Poster Mag #3.

*The poster in this issue was of the Shredder.


"I say, Carruthers."
"You know what's very, very funny? A man dressed in women's clothing!"

"Mm, yes.  Quite.  Ripping good laugh."

So last issue, I joked that it was a change of pace for the Fleetway comic to feature a character disguising themselves in drag instead of a gorilla costume.  I see that I spoke too soon, as this issue features both drag AND a gorilla costume!  Always one step ahead of me, aren't you, Fleetway?

By my count, this is the third instance of gorilla costumes in TMHT Adventures.  Why?  Why?  What was their preoccupation with something so bewilderingly specific?  Was there a bet going on at the Fleetway offices to see how many different ways you could work gorilla costumes into the comic?  Who won?  What did they win?  Was it worth it?

Well, that aside, it's another cut 'n dry comic.  I learned my lesson from last issue and now I know that the cover of these Poster Mags are actually the first page of the story, so it read a little easier.  I do enjoy the unexpected violence in these comics, particularly with the way the Foot Soldiers are dispatched.  They're identified in the dialogue as "Footbots" to make it clear to the reader (or, more likely, their nosy parents) that these are robots, which is good, because the Foot Soldiers get their heads and feet chopped off in these things, and aside from little explosive bursts at the wounds, you wouldn't otherwise know these were robots.

Then there's Shredder straight up holding a knife to April's neck, which is pretty dark for what's supposed to be a goofy villain.  Last issue, he tried to gun Rocksteady down with friendly fire, too.  I'm kinda liking Fleetway Shredder.  The guy really, really wants to kill people and he tries so hard, but he just can't keep from screwing up.

Also, what's April supposed to be dressed as?

This is a costume party, isn't it?  I mean, I have suggestions, but they'd get me in trouble with Feminist Frequency.


Killer Moth said...

"This is a costume party, isn't it? I mean, I have suggestions, but they'd get me in trouble with Feminist Frequency."

I'll go for it. Judging from the second scan, and that crown of spikes on April's head -- or color-wise, it looks to be April's costume -- a slutty version of the Statue of Liberty, maybe? Nice backless look, too.

One of these days, I or someone has to count how many times Raph threw his sai in the Fred Wolf series, if not the overall era. It seems to work out pretty well for him in various situations. My favorite was "Turtles at the Earth's Core", where he electrocuted Krang by doing that.

"Then there's Shredder straight up holding a knife to April's neck, which is pretty dark for what's supposed to be a goofy villain. Last issue, he tried to gun Rocksteady down with friendly fire, too. I'm kinda liking Fleetway Shredder. The guy really, really wants to kill people and he tries so hard, but he just can't keep from screwing up."

So we can't have nunchucks or the word "ninja" anywhere, but the UK is a-okay with the kid-friendly Shredder being hardcore in trying to kill his enemies. Huh.

Anyway, good review, as always.

Adam Winters said...

Hey, Mark, did you catch the cameos by Darth Vader and Mr. Spock?

@Killer Moth, it's weird, but I'm not sure if the dancing lade with the crown of spikes is supposed to be April or just another woman in a costume that looks exactly like her's. She is never seen with the crown in any other panels and there actually is a woman dressed like the Statue of Liberty on the last page:

I've always assumed it was an error of the artist or colorist. I have no clue was April was supposed to be dressed up as. The gown struck me more as evening formal wear, but now that Mark mentioned it, I guess it could be... something else.

Killer Moth said...

@Adam Winters:

Oh, okay. I didn't know there really was a woman dressed as the Statue of Liberty. Unless April just happened to dance right in front of her, and what the Turtles saw in their line of vision, or the panel's. Either way, I'll go with your "it was an error by the artist or colorist" theory.

Coloring April in a yellow formal dress probably would have been a little too on the nose at the time, vis-a-vis, the then-upcoming Beauty and the Beast animated film. (Although, I'm now curious who would have been aware of the film, which debuted in Nov. 1991, in the spring/summer of '91, when this issue was drawn/produced.) Except the comic outright showed Spock and Vader at the same party. So much for that crackpot theory.

Adam Winters said...

Hmm... the Disney Beauty & the Beast homage theory is an interesting one. Maybe it was the artistic inspiration but the colorist didn't get the full memo?

Staz Johnson said...

Hi, I was the artist on this strip. With regard to your questions about the party goers costumes, as best as I can remember the script suggested that the men at the party be dressed in whatever odd costumes I could thing of, it was just important that one had to be a gorilla since that would turn out to be the villain, as for the women I was told just to dress them in evening gowns with face masks (I believe in the script it was described as a masquerade ball rather than a fancy dress party) but although I drew April with a face mask in the pencil, I was instructed to remove that in the final art so the readers could see it was her, which completely negates the concept of a masquerade ball, but there you go. I was also the colourist on the strip, I used Windsor & Newton coloured inks which I remember being particularly unforgiving & I had a hell of a job trying to get a nice even finish. This story & a story in which the Turtles were hypnotised by Krang were the only two Turtles jobs I did. I found the micro managing of the art at all stages by the licence holders to be stifling.

Mark Pellegrini said...

@Staz Johnson

Thanks so much for the insight! I updated the credits in the summary so you're properly named and I'll keep an eye out for that "Krang hypnotizes the Turtles" story to make sure you get your credit there, as well. I appreciate the behind-the-scenes info!