Wednesday, December 7, 2016

The Green Menace

Originally published in: TMHT Adventures #21
Publication date: November 3 - 16, 1990

Plot: David Robinson
Art: Massimo Belardinelli

"The Green Menace"


Down in the lair, the Turtles are mocking Leonardo for doting over his prize sewer weed when they catch a news broadcast from April.  She's reporting from the Annual Flower Show when suddenly a giant vine springs to life, snatches her up and takes over the building.  The Turtles drop what they're doing and race to the Flower Show.

They chop their way in and free April, but within seconds April gets a report from the newsroom that a giant tree has sprouted up downtown.  While the Turtles investigate that, another vine delivers a video tape to the Police Commissioner.  The cops play the tape on TV and it reveals a strange plant-man named Father Nature has caused all the crazy plant attacks.  He has the power to control plants and will only call his forces off if he's given 10 million dollars, delivered to him at the Botanical Gardens at midnight.  The Turtles decide to interfere, though Splinter warns them that Father Nature will be at his most powerful with the floral arsenal available at the Botanical Gardens.

The Turtles make it to the Gardens and smash their way in.  After chopping their way through some giant Venus fly-traps, they meet Father Nature, who turns out to be a guy in a costume.  He reveals that he was once a botanist named Michael Meebly who journeyed into the deepest Congo in search of a rare fruit.  He stole a piece from some villagers because their legends said that eating the fruit allowed one to commune with the plant world.  He ate too much, however, and gained the psychic power to control plants.  Thus, he made a stupid costume and became Father Nature: A super villain.

Unimpressed, the Turtles attack and Father Nature uses his giant plants to hold them off.  At the same time, April sneaks in to get some footage and is captured by a giant Venus fly-trap.  Father Nature threatens to let the plant eat her, but Donatello attacks him and bashes him over the side of the head with his staff.  The severe head trauma gives Father Nature amnesia; he can't remember who he is and thus forgets how to psychically control plants.  The giant plants wither and the Turtles hand Meebly over to the cops.

Down in the lair, Donatello notices that Leonardo's prized sewer weed has died from lack of water.  Leo reveals that he's had his fill of plants and can't bear to look at so much as a salad anymore.

Turtle Tips;

*This story was originally published with "Fast Footin'".


The Turtles battling giant killer plants was conquered territory by the time this comic was published; they'd already done it in the season 2 episode "It Came from Beneath the Sewers".  I'll admit that "The Green Menace" gets more out of the concept than that episode, which only featured one man-eating plant that didn't show up until partway through the second act.  This story gets to the killer plant action ASAP and keeps it going right up until the last page.

While I've expressed in the past that I'm not a big fan of the more overly-lavish painted colors Fleetway often used in their original comics, they do look really good applied to the plant monsters.  The flora all looks very alien and exotic thanks to the loud, swirling colors and it allows them to appear more menacing than they deserve.

And Fleetway's still trying to figure out what to do with Michelangelo and his lack of a weapon in UK-original stories.  In the past he's used just his fists and even a plank of wood as his signature bludgeon.  In this one, he just rolls into battle with a bo staff like Donatello and carries one throughout the whole adventure.  It's not that big a deal, except when the colorist fucks up and we get panels like this:

For a second I thought that was Leonardo, accidentally drawn with Donatello's weapon, accidentally drawn with Michelangelo's belt buckle.  Amalgamate all the Turtles into one and it'll cut your drawing time down by 75%.

The resolution is fuckin' weird, too.  So they couldn't include nunchakus because those were too violent, but Donatello saves the day by smashing Father Nature over the skull with his staff?  And he does it so hard it gives him legit brain damage and that takes care of that.  Good lord.

Lastly, Father Nature looks an awful lot like Floronic Man from Swamp Thing, doesn't he?  Only Floronic Man looked marginally less stupid.

Oh god.  Floronic Man looked less stupid?  That's when you know you've done something wrong.


Killer Moth said...

"Oh god. Floronic Man looked less stupid? That's when you know you've done something wrong."

Pre-Thunderbolts Plantman didn't fare much better:

"For a second I thought that was Leonardo, accidentally drawn with Donatello's weapon, accidentally drawn with Michelangelo's belt buckle. Amalgamate all the Turtles into one and it'll cut your drawing time down by 75%."

Add in Raphael's snark, and then the writing's done, too.

Seriously, though, between Father Nature vs. Snakeweed, Father Nature's backstory and powers are actually more interesting (okay, barely, but still). Not the best execution, to be sure, but the ingredients are there if anyone ever wants to do an update with Son of Return of Snakeweed.

Lastly, I found Leo's gardening with his Sewer Weed quite endearing, even if he seems to be the type to raise a bonsai tree (as Shredder did in the American Archie version), instead.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure how Donatello shouting at Father Nature counts as sneaking up on him. Also he doesn't remember he was Michael Meebly as he asks "Who am I?"

Adam Winters said...

"Bludgeon" is a word that deserves more widespread usage.

Austin Reed said...

Father Nature feels more like he would fit in the Archie comic. Some bridging with the reprints?

Anonymous said...

I swear these Fleetway comics are the most bizarre TMNT comics I've ever seen. Really wish IDW could collect them and release them in the U.S. someday. They're like weird historical curiosities.