Friday, August 24, 2012

TMNT Adventures #64

Publication date: January, 1995

Script: Allan/Clarrain (Murphy)
Pencils: Allan
Inks: Thomas
Letters: Fields
Colors: Grossman
Edits: Fulop
O2: Gorelick
Cover: Allan/Talbot

“Dreamland, Part 3 of 5”


Main story:

At the infirmary of the Turtleco building, Don has gotten Mikey stabilized, though still on life support.  Mezcaal wonders if Mike would be better off in a hospital, but Don explains that their mutant physiology makes them tough patients even for trained specialists; only Turtleco has the proper equipment to keep Mikey breathing.  Unfortunately for the Turtles, they can’t stay and watch over their wounded brother; they have to head through the time slip generator and see what happened to the missing brain.  Leo leaves his students behind to keep Mikey safe and the three Turtles then jump through the time slip.

Out in space, an alien named Crainiac shows Verminator-X the imminent fate of planet Earth: A comet is careening toward it and will shortly destroy the whole world.  Verminator isn’t sure he likes the sound of that, at least until Crainiac offers him a business proposition.  Crainiac explains that there are alien races incapable of dreaming and that they pay good money for the brains of unique individuals that have lived exciting lives.  They then siphon the memories of those people and use them as dreams.  Crainiac has collected many human brains, but one very special one still awaits…

In the tunnels beneath war-torn Berlin, the brain of Adolf Hitler has forged a makeshift robot body (really just a jar with tripod legs and pincher arms) and is desperately trying to reconvene with his younger self to prevent his defeat at the hands of the Allied forces.  Hitler’s brain kills a member of the resistance hiding in the tunnels, then trudges off.

Not long after, the Turtles arrive through the time slip.  They find the body, but before they can ask too many questions, more members of the resistance arrive and open fire.  The Turtles escape to the surface and find Berlin in ruins, as Allied planes continue to drop bombs on the city.  Hitler’s brain has succeeded in teaming with his younger self and together they’ve mustered several members of the Reich to hold off their enemies.  The Turtles are pinned by gunfire until a bomb drops and destroys the robot body of Hitler’s brain (and scatters the Nazi soldiers, too).  Raph belts young-Hitler in the jaw and they snatch up the gooey brain from its shattered globe.  Unfortunately, Don has lost his time slip remote and they now have to race to the entry point for their one shot at returning home when the time slip portal briefly reopens.

They make it back to the tunnels, only to be accosted at gunpoint by a dazed and confused Hitler.  As the time slip opens up, Leo tells Hitler that they are demons and they have come to take his soul to Hell.  Hitler refuses to let them and, instead, blows his own brains out with his gun.  The Turtles return through the time slip with Hitler’s not-blown-out brain as the young Hitler’s lifeless body falls to the rubble.

As the Turtles return to Turtleco, they find Verminator-X and Crainiac waiting for them.  They have subdued Leo’s students and demand that the Turtles hand over Hitler’s brain.  Don tells “Manx” (Verminator) that he was once a brilliant scientist and shouldn’t be associating with such criminal scum.  Verminator is unmoved and escapes in Crainiac’s spaceship, intent on finishing his project before Earth’s destruction.

As the ship zooms off, Raph notices a groggy Michaelangelo clinging to the bottom of the hull.  Weakly, Mike promises to hold on for as long as he can and find out where they’re headed.


Story: Dean Clarrain
Art: Gray Morrow
Letters: Gary Fields
Color: B. Grossman
Edits: Fulop/Gorelick

“April O’Neil: The Angel of Times Square, Chapter III”

As April watches the Angel weep on stage, she notices the source of her sorrow: a shackle chaining her to the floor.  The rest of the audience misses this detail, thinking the angel is shedding tears of joy.

April isn’t fooled and, later that night, dons her ninja garb and sneaks into the theater through an upper window (crowds that glimpse her mistake her silhouette for an angel’s, in fact).  Sneaking in, she’s approached by Hollywood Hoey and a gang of knife-wielding thugs.  Hoey orders the thugs to attack and April draws her sword.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Adventures #63.  The story continues in TMNT Adventures #65.

*Don previously lost a time slip remote in TMNT Adventures #57, hence Raph’s annoyance.

*This issue also contained a bonus story, “The Angel of Times Square, Chapter III” by Clarrain and Morrow.


“Dreamland” continues and now the title is starting to make some freakin’ sense.

Crainiac’s scheme is actually a pretty novel one; stealing memories for aliens incapable of dreaming.  It’s a very abstract crime, to be sure, while still having a tinge of ghoulishness to it as the alien makes off with the actual brains of celebrities and historical figures.  Verminator-X’s part in all this seems a bit wobbly, though.  I understand that he cares more about profit than the salvation of his homeworld, but how exactly is Crainiac going to make the whole caper worth his while (aside from alerting him to Earth’s impending demise and getting him out of there, I guess)?

I was more interested in the glimpse of back story Don dropped in passing.  Villains are always better when you know more about them and Verminator offers something of a look at what Don might have been like had he grown to value science and tech over body and soul.  Don’s always been the mad scientist and inventor of the group, but Splinter’s martial arts training and spiritual guidance kept him leveled; he was raised to appreciate nature and physical fitness first and foremost.  Verminator, or Manx, is what Don would have been like had he lacked that upbringing; a capable scientist and inventor with no value for his own body or the natural world-itself, so much so that he traded his humanity for cybernetic upgrades and callously sells out the Earth for material gain.

From that perspective, Verminator’s a more interesting villain than he otherwise might be.  And, in fact, Verminator is one of the reasons I always felt the cyborg-Don of the Image TMNT Vol. 3 series rang so false.  Regardless of what continuity you ascribe to, Don is not a character that would embrace becoming a soulless machine because “firepower is cool”.

As for the Hitler stuff, as insanely daring as it was for a kid’s comic, the pacing threw the story off and the inclusion of Hitler’s shenanigans seems rather pointless to the overall story.  There’s a major rush to get the set pieces in place, so everything begins jumping around.  Where did Hitler’s brain get that robot body?  He joins with his younger self and forms an alliance completely off-panel and in a very short span of time (seemingly only minutes).  Then his robot body is destroyed by a convenient bomb and Raph knocks young-Hitler out.  Then… young-Hitler BEATS them to the tunnel, somehow, and there’s a sloppy conversation about Hell that elicits Hitler to shoot himself in the head (so as not to mess up history).

The whole thing left me with the impression that Murphy (Clarrain) wanted to do a whole lot more with the evildoings of Hitler’s grey matter in Nazi Germany, but was thusly forced to truncate it all into a nearly incomprehensible series of panels.  The end result is still shocking as all Hell for its content but is ultimately a total mess to read.

Artistically, this is some of Allan’s best work, though.  Raph belting Hitler in the jaw is pretty awesome, despite everything I said about the story pacing, and the overall action layouts of this issue are astounding.  His skill with expression also takes point on some of the more comedic scenes, like Don losing the time slip remote and Raph’s droll response to the dilemma.

As for the April back-up; this thing is a pain to read in 5-page chunks.  I really have little new to say about this installment beyond the fact that, in her old age, April has apparently become a rather crappy ninja.  People on the streets see her running along the rooftops and she’s caught seconds after breaking into the theater.

Ninja-ing is a young woman’s game, April.  Think about retiring.

Grade: C (as in, “Can’t say I enjoy admitting it, but damn did the Nazi’s have cool uniforms”.)