Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Raphael: Snapper

Originally published in: Turtle Soup (Vol. 2) #2
Publication date: December, 1991

Story, art: Rick McCollum
Inks: Tom Anderson
Colors: Peter Laird

“Raphael: Snapper”


Alone in April’s apartment, Raph sits on the couch in front of the tube, nursing indigestion after eating six pepperoni pizzas and drinking who knows how much soda. Looking to his left, he spots a glass bowl containing a tiny snapping turtle. Amused, Raph plucks the turtle up by its tail, only to have it bite his finger, drawing blood. The pain and the indigestion prove too much for him, and watching the turtle hissing at him from the floor, Raph passes out.

Suddenly, Raph finds himself in a nightmarish version of April’s apartment, approached by a humongous mutant snapping turtle. Raph grabs his sai, but the snapping turtle proves too fast and too powerful, throwing Raph around the room. The snapping turtle tells Raph that by ignoring his reptile heritage and embracing human culture, he has let himself grow weak. Tearing Raph’s throat out with his jaws, the snapping turtle says that pizza is no substitute for blood.

Moments later, Raph awakens on the floor of April’s apartment, with the little snapping turtle on his head and a very upset April standing in the doorway. Apparently, the entire apartment has been trashed as if there was a huge brawl. April scoops up little “Snapper”, who is very sweet and gentle in her hands. April says she found him in an alley and wanted to give him to Raph to set free. But April has more important things on her mind, now.

Throwing Raph out of her apartment, she orders him to go back to the sewer lair and not return without a rare ninja weapon: a broom. Back in his glass bowl, Snapper chuckles at Raph’s predicament.

Turtle Tips:

*The contents page for Turtle Soup #2 lists this story as titled “Snapper”, yet the title in the story-itself reads “Raphael: Snapper”.

*This comic was published only nine months after the release of the feature film “TMNT II: Secret of the Ooze”, which introduced another mutant snapping turtle: Tokka. Any further similarities between Snapper and Tokka are unknown.


McCollum’s contributions to Mirage’s TMNT comics have always been on the underrated side, if you ask me. “Raphael: Snapper” continues something of a theme seen in their stories “Donatello: The Ring” and its sequel, “Twilight of the Ring”, which involve the TMNT encountering spiritual Turtle gods, having weird visions and coming to grips with the duality of their mutant natures. The comedic approach to the story may leave you with the impression that Raph was just having an indigestion-induced nightmare/hallucination, but when you take it alongside McCollum’s other TMNT stories then suddenly it reads a bit closer to face value.

At only 5 pages, it’s still just a gag strip, and unlike “The Ring” from Turtle Soup (Vol. 2) #1, which was a prequel to TMNT (Vol. 1) #37, the specific events of “Raphael: Snapper” are never addressed again (though the theme is present in the "Ring" saga). So interpret it however you wish.

Precisely what Peter Laird’s contributions to this story were, I’m afraid I don’t know (update: PL did the colors). The credits only list the creators by last name, not identifying what they did. McCollum usually did the story and art while Anderson did the inking, so perhaps Laird just colored it?

If there’s one thing I generally didn’t like about the story, it would probably be the computer effects surrounding mutant Snapper during the nightmare. This being 1991 and all, they are very archaic-looking and incongruous with the traditional art, coloring and lettering of the story. Basically, they look like something a novice with photoshop would throw in and then publish on DeviantArt. I know that, in 1991, computer art programs weren’t nearly as advanced as they are now, but man does it look sloppy.

As for whether Snapper was meant to be a sly reference to Tokka is a matter of debate among fans. McCollum’s other works deal with giant turtle spirits, so I’m inclined to think the timing may have been a matter of coincidence. Snapper certainly shares no other similarities with Tokka beyond being an anthropomorphic snapping turtle.

Anyhow, by itself this story may be just another bizarre short that ends on a bad joke, ala “New Comic Day” or “You Had To Be There”, but if McCollum’s TMNT work was ever collected under one cover, I’d like to see this one gathered next to their “Ring” saga as it presages it rather conveniently.

Grade: B- (as in, “But the main thing that keeps Snapper from being Tokka is a matter of braincells”.)