Sunday, July 23, 2017

Help! Where's the Pizza?


Originally published in: TMHT Adventures #22
Publication date: November 17 - 30, 1990

Story: James Nichols
Art: Sandy James
(credits taken from Holiday Special reprint)

"Help!  Where's the Pizza?"

Summary:

In the Technodrome, the Shredder is reviewing footage of old battles against the Turtles, trying to deduce a way to beat them.  Suddenly, he realizes that without pizza, the Turtles would grow weak and helpless.  Gathering Bebop, Rocksteady and an army of Foot Soldiers, the Shredder begins a campaign of laying waste to every pizzeria in the city.


Down in the lair, the Turtles are waiting on their pizza order when Leonardo comes running in.  He has bad news: Half the pizza parlors in the city have been destroyed.  Sensing the Shredder's handiwork, the Turtles race to the surface.  They find the Foot about to trash to last pizzeria in town, Pizza Shop, but manage to scare them off.  Leo decides that 24 hour guard duty is the only solution and the Turtles make camp at Pizza Shop.


It's quiet for a while, at least until Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady return, piloting the Pizza-Eating Robots (bipedal brontosaurus-looking things).  The Turtles take down the Pizza-Eaters, but they aren't quick enough to stop a bomb from destroying Pizza Shop.  Triumphant, the Shredder retreats.

Desperate for pizza, the Turtles decide to hit the one "pizza parlor" that the Shredder doesn't know about: The pizza stash they keep in the lair!  The Turtles return to the lair, only to find it trashed and Splinter unconscious on the floor.  Their sensei regains his senses and explains that Shredder and his goons were too many for him and they destroyed all of the Turtles' emergency pizza supplies.  Defeated, the Turtles slump into a deep depression.  Realizing he needs help, Splinter calls on April O'Neil and together they come up with a plan.

Back at the Technodrome, the Shredder is coming up with his next evil scheme now that the Turtles are on the verge of starvation.  April then appears on the news and reports that the city government, wanting to help the Turtles in their time of need, will be baking a world record-shattering giant pizza to present to them as a gift during a ceremony in Central Park.  Infuriated, Shredder orders all of his forces to converge on the park and destroy the giant pizza.


The Shredder does just that, leading an army of Foot Soldiers and Pizza-Eaters toward the giant pizza on display in the park.  Getting near it, Bebop discovers that the "pizza" is made entirely out of gunge.  April then climbs a scaffold and shoves the giant pizza onto the Foot, trapping them in the sticky substance.  Shredder, Bebop and Rocksteady break free, but with the Foot Soldiers and Pizza-Eaters destroyed, and the Turtles rallying, they've no choice but to retreat.

The day saved, April leads the Turtles to the actual reward offered by the city: Two truckloads of fresh-baked pizzas.


Turtle Tips:

*This story was published alongside "Fast Flush!"

*This story was reprinted in the TMHT Holiday Special #1.

*"Gunge" is a British word for "slime".  Apparently.


Review:

You know, I actually think the Fleetway comics capture the spirit of the old Fred Wolf TMNT cartoon better than the Archie comics did.  I say this because the Archie comics aspired to be more than what the companion cartoon was.  The Archie comics, for both good and ill, had ambition.  But the Fleetway comics?  These things hew closer to their mediocre source material, but that isn't always a disparaging sort of deal.  Just like the Fred Wolf cartoon, the Fleetway comics are this baffling combination of inspired weirdness and half-assed shoddiness that makes them memorable beyond all tangible merit.

I mean, just look at this issue.  Much of the art is traced or look-and-copied from artwork that appeared in other issues of both the Fleetway and Archie books.  Look at Leonardo hacking into the Foot Soldier in the title page up at the top.  Familiar?


It's a look-and-copy job of Michael Dooney art, no doubt about it.  Yet also look at how much effort was put into the painted colors seen throughout this issue.  That shit takes TIME.

The story, too.  I mean, there are incongruities, like the Shredder knowing where the secret sewer lair is, invading it off-panel, and leaving Splinter alive and uncaptured just to destroy some pizza ingredients.  But at the same time, the plot of the Shredder trying to starve the Turtles to death by destroying their singular source of nourishment is just crazy enough to work.  Or at least carry 13 pages.  Like I said, there's this weird juxtaposition of "actually trying" and "completely not giving a shit" throughout these comics that utterly boggles the mind.

On the subject of the Shredder, he is NUTS in this comic.  It's funny, because the UK "Hero Turtles" stuff is typically viewed as being more sanitized than their American "Ninja Turtles" counterparts.  I mean, they can't say "ninja", Mikey can't use his nunchakus, etc.  But then LOOK at some of those selected panels I put in my summary.  Shredder is blowing up buildings and burning half the city to the ground and he's loving every minute of it.  This is some violent shit, at least in terms of property damage.


But much like the Fred Wolf cartoon, the Fleetway comics are best taken in small doses.  If I were to marathon these stories, I'd get sick of them pretty quick.  Also, I really wish these comics had consistent credit pages.  You can sometimes tell who the artist is by just looking (I think this is Sandy James?), but I'm not really familiar enough with the Fleetway in-house crew to make unsourced definitive statements on who did what.


8 comments:

Mark Rodriguez said...

I kept hearing that movie clip in my head during that panel of Shredder saying 'Get EVERYONE!!!'. Dude, if only Shredder has put that much energy into his other plans, he would have brought New York City to the ground and the citizens to their knees years ago. Forget stealing the magical whatsis that should repower the Technodrome every other week. Just grab all your mutants, robots and guns and cause all out havoc across the city!

Anonymous said...

I really wish these UK comics could be collected by IDW and released in the U.S. I never even knew most of these comics existed. It'd be so weird to see "new" old comics based on the original cartoon I've never read before.

And I don't even think Fred Wolf Shredder was this dumb. A plan to destroy all the pizza shops in the city just so the Turtles couldn't eat? When even in the OT the Turtles ate food other than pizza at times? Shredder would have considered this a hair-brained scheme and it'd probably be something Bebop/Rocksteady would come up with on their own.

Adam Winters said...

In the Fleetway Holiday Special (the first one, actually, cover priced 1.25 pounds) reprint, the credits are included. Author is James Nicholas and the artist (as you correctly guessed) was Sandy James.

Nice catch regarding James's artistic indebtedness to Michael Dooney on that one panel. There is so much other stuff going on, I never noticed the reference pose. James was one of the better Fleetway artists, but the entire Fleetway series is strongly influence by the Dooney art style. I think the Heroes in a Half Shell mini-series were probably the "style guide" given to all the artists and that's why all the characters have that distinctive look to them that isn't necessarily true to the Fred Wolf cartoon.

This really was a bizarre plot as Shredder apparently knows the secret location of the lair, but only exploits it for the purpose of raiding the kitchen. Solid review!

Mark Pellegrini said...

@Adam

Oh crap, do I have the Holiday Specials in reverse order on my site's index?

Adam Winters said...

Indeed you do! I had to pull them out to check today. Want me to scan you the table of contents?

Mark Pellegrini said...

@Adam

That would help immensely.

I only have one of the Holiday Specials and somehow I got it mixed up with the other one.

Thanks!

Adam Winters said...

Understandable! Fleetway comics had the most generic covers imaginable (other European adaptations made a much better effort at having distinctive covers relevant to the stories), and I don't even think the Holiday Specials were even numbered or dated. The first special was solicited in issues from the summer of 1991 (issue #37, the same year as all the Poster Mags were being released) while the second issue was advertised in the summer of 1992 (issues #62 and maybe some others).

Mark Pellegrini said...

@Adam,

Thanks for the clarifications; I've fixed the indexes on the Holiday Special pages.