*This story is continued from The Year of the Turtle #2. This is the end of the TMNT Adventures series. Go home.
*Donatello mentions Casey Jones in this issue. Casey actually never made a single appearance in the TMNT Adventures universe. So either chalk the reference up as an error or try to imagine all the awesome Casey/TMNT stories that happened but we never got to see.
*This issue also included a Shredder sketchbook page featuring early designs by Scott Fulop (editor) and Pat “Spaz” Spaziante (artist) and two bonus pin-ups by Elman Brown and John Herbert.
Wednesday, June 25th, 2008. That was the day I launched TMNT Entity with the original purpose of reviewing every issue of Archie’s TMNT Adventures comic. Less than a year into my work I quickly widened my net to include all other comic book iterations of the franchise. And then I began distracting myself with research essays, editorials and even the occasional interview.
As a result, it took just over four years for me to meet my original goal. I’ve now read and reviewed every single issue of Archie’s TMNT Adventures; from the obscure, to the terrible, to the creepy furry fanservice. There’s no telling if I’ll be able to review EVERY Ninja Turtle comic (the Mirage catalog is DAUNTING), but I’m satisfied in that I at least have a thorough, cross-referenced guide to TMNT Adventures completed and done with.
But now onto the review: The end of the series.
The Year of the Turtle ends about as perfectly as you can hope for. Some may be disappointed that the final battle with the Shredder is resolved by him tripping and dropping the MacGuffin at the 1-yard line, but let’s all face facts: That’s TMNT Adventures Shredder to a “T”. For all his bluster and supposed menace, the guy’s resume' still includes an array of embarrassing defeats no less humiliating than the one he received in this story. If the Shredder HAD been defeated in some epic, all-out brawl for the fate of the universe, it would have rang just a smidgen insincere. Tripping and inadvertently exchanging omnipotence for a jumbo pizza just feels… right.
Though it serves as a satisfying conclusion to the series, we shouldn’t forget that The Year of the Turtle was solicited as “a new direction” and intended to act as a relaunch for TMNT Adventures should consumers prove interested. As a result, this “conclusion” remains a bit more open-ended than I’d have liked, but at the same time, it gives a “the adventure continues” vibe that works just as well. Shredder isn’t dead, but merely rendered comatose. Yoshi isn't permanently cured of his mutation, but slowly returning to his Splinter state. And Mikey isn’t reduced to a child forced to grow-up in real time all over again, but quickly catching up with his old self (made evident in how each issue’s prologue shows his dialogue becoming more intricate).
The status quo is still on the horizon, but The Year of the Turtle functions as an ending, regardless.
Slott’s script, again, includes references to other TMNT media that don’t quite gel with the Archie universe; in this case, Casey Jones. I actually kind of like the idea that there were a bunch of Casey/TMNT stories we never got to see that took place in this universe. Getting back to Shredder’s defeat, to put on my dork hat, it sort of reminded me of Emperor Pilaf’s defeat at the end of the first arc in “Dragon Ball”. Except Michaelangelo traded potential godhood for a pizza whereas Oolong traded it for a pair of panties. To each his own.
I can’t praise Haynes’ artwork enough in this miniseries; the two-page spread of Yoshi training in Tibet is pretty damn awesome. I never liked the Fred Wolf-inspired character model for Yoshi that artists like Ken Mitchroney used, nor did I like the “old man” version that artists like Brian Thomas used. Haynes’ Yoshi is definitely younger, but with enough heavily defined facial features to make him a fatherly age (though not going overboard into weirdo territory, like the Fred Wolf design). Haynes knocks all the action sequences out of the park and the Shredder, despite his comic defeat, has never looked more menacing in this book. Again, Haynes has trouble translating the physical comedy of Slott’s script across (the “ice hockey” scene, for instance), but I’m okay with that.
Spaz, one of Archie’s most popular go-to artists (best known for his prolific work as a cover artist on Sonic the Hedgehog) redesigned the Shredder in his “ultimate power” form for this issue. His design gallery is included in the back as a bonus and I actually found the version that made it into the book far less interesting than the three rejected alternatives.
The Year of the Turtle is an open-ended ending, but a solid one never-the-less. There’s enough distance between it and the parting events of the TMNT Adventures ongoing series that you could conceivably fit some stories in-between the two. With that in mind, I hope that “The Forever War”, when or if it comes out, manages to slot in snuggly between the stories so as not to write this one out of continuity.
Grade: B (as in, “But man, those ads for Cartoon Network’s ‘World Premier Toons’ takes me back. Remember Yoink of the Yucan?”)