Monday, December 22, 2014

TMNT (Vol. 4) #8

Publication date: February, 2003

Writing, lettering, inking, toning: Peter Laird
Layouts, penciling: Jim Lawson
Inking: Eric Talbot
Cover painting: Michael Dooney
Production assistance: Dan Berger


Robyn, Don and Dr. Klynor arrive at the grave of Robyn’s and April’s parents to collect a DNA sample.  After doing so, Don suggests they pay the O’Neils a moment of respect for desecrating their graves.

In Northampton, a mysterious man on a motorcycle races through the streets, carrying a package.  He’s familiar with the town and is grateful to be back.  He arrives at Stainless Steve Steel’s farmhouse and takes off his helmet, revealing himself to be Mr. Braunze.  Steve greets him, as apparently they’re old friends, and he thanks him for coming out and for bringing the item of precise specifications.

Braunze greets Metalhead and Splinter (though his mental powers can’t get very far through Splinter’s psychic defenses) before sitting down with Jay.  He tells Jay that he’s an excellent judge of character and asks him to repeat his story once more from the top.

At the Utrom moon island, Casey, Raph and Mikey are blowing off some steam in the gym.  Mikey notices that Cha Ocho is keeping a watchful eye on Leo, who is practicing with bokken.  Ocho approaches Leo and challenges him to a sparring match and Leo accepts.  The two duel with their bokken, but as soon as Leo starts to get the upper hand, Ocho resorts to fisticuffs.  Leo responds in kind and eventually defeats Ocho.  He tells Ocho that he’s skilled but, pointing to the scar on his face, reminds him that he’s overconfident.

Before things can escalate further, Karai steps in and reprimands Ocho for his shameful behavior.  As she leaves, she tells Casey that she hopes April will make a full recovery.

Back at the farmhouse, Braunze concludes that Jay’s telling the truth.  Satisfied with Jay’s character, Braunze decides to finish the interrogation and hypnotizes Jay.  Jay awakens later in the woods with what looks like his intact rifle.  All he remembers is going out to do some hiking and target practice and decides to head home.  Watching in secret, Steve compliments Braunze on the exact replica of Jay’s rifle that he brought with him.

At the moon island, Casey, Robyn and the Turtles gather in April’s hospital room to hear the DNA results from the Fugitoid and Klynor.  The tests prove that Robyn is the biological offspring of Mr. and Mrs. O’Neil, but April is not.  Robyn asks if this means April is adopted, but Klynor says that anomalies in the results indicate it may be something more serious.

Suddenly, April starts to spasm and shriek in pain.  A bio-scan quickly concludes that Stockman’s nanobots have switched into disassembler mode and are tearing her apart from the inside out.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (Vol. 4) #7.  The story continues in TMNT (Vol. 4) #9.

*April and Robyn’s father died in TMNT (Vol. 1) #56.  Their mother was mentioned as being dead in the same issue.

*Chronologically, Braunze last appeared in Tales of the TMNT (Vol. 2) #49.

*This issue also included a TMNT-themed crossword puzzle created by Peter Laird, and a bonus pin-up of the TMNT by Peter Laird and Norman Lee.


Hey, Braunze is back!  That was… a fruitful subplot.  Maybe.  It’s been a long time since I read through all of Volume 4, so this is a bit of rediscovery for me, but does Braunze ever do anything of substance in this volume?  I mean, I don’t remember him doing anything worthwhile after his big reintroduction.  So with that in mind, this arc with Jay was nothing more than a lead-in to Braunze, but what does it matter when Braunze never does anything? 

It’s sort of like all the hype for Cha Ocho (another subplot in this and the past couple of issues).  Ocho doesn’t do a damn thing in this volume (now THAT I remember), so what was the point of all the build up?  It peters out and goes nowhere.  While it’s nice to be reminded of the rich and colorful characters that populate the Mirage TMNT universe, it doesn’t really do them any justice when they show up for no other purpose than to say “Hi.  I exist!”

And there isn’t much more to say about this issue.  April’s subplot is spent verifying information that was already revealed to us last issue.  So while it’s vital in a, er, realistic sort of way (gotta check, doublecheck and triplecheck the facts) it doesn’t do much for the reading experience.  Being made to watch the Utroms fact-check themselves is about as thrilling as watching Michelangelo eat a bowl of cereal for 8 pages.  “Realistic”, sure, but exciting and suspenseful?  Not really.

There’s a 3-page segment in this issue, where Braunze rides into Northampton and remarks on the landscape and local businesses.  It feels very authentic and I imagine it was; the Mirage crew were often in and out of Northampton so I’m guessing each namedrop and every street corner was true to life, circa 2003.  While it was neat, it was also a little self-indulgent, as aside from the Mirage crew, only a small minority of TMNT readers are going to “get” all those references.

But I’ll cut it some slack, since as far as Volume 4’s self-indulgence goes, this was nothing.