Sunday, October 2, 2016

Job Security, Part 1

Originally published in: TMNT Amazing Adventures #7
Publication date: February 10, 2016

Story: Ian Flynn
Art: Chad Thomas
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow

"Job Security, Part 1"


On a rooftop, the Turtles are wiping the floor with Rahzar, Fishface, Bebop, Rocksteady and a horde of Foot-bots.  Ultimately, all are defeated.  And in record time, too!

The Foot Mutants return to face the Shredder and Tiger Claw, neither of whom are impressed with their latest defeat.  Shredder informs them that they were more dangerous when they were human.  If the mutants can't prove themselves, and soon, they will all be disposed of.  None of the Foot Mutants like the sound of that, so Bebop and Rocksteady form an alliance whilst Rahzar and Fishface do the same (without either side knowing it).

The next night, Bebop and Rocksteady set up a trap in a warehouse to catch the Turtles and bring them to the Shredder alive.  Bebop plants several "Dub-Stomp Mines" that will explode and stun the Turtles.  In an adjacent room, Rahzar and Fishface are setting their own trap: Decoy Foot-bots who will lead the Turtles into spring-activated cages.

With the traps set, both teams head into the alley to wait for the Turtles... bumping into each other in the process.  They accuse one another of trying to outdo them in the eyes of the Shredder and a fight breaks out.  The commotion attracts the Turtles, who have just finished with the decoy Foot-bots.  The Turtles charge the Foot Mutants, only to be caught in the exploding Dub-Stomp Mines, which promptly fling them into the spring-trap cages.

When the Foot Mutants regain their senses, they find that they've done it: They've captured the Turtles!

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Amazing Adventures #6.  The story continues in "Job Security - Part Two".

*Bradford and Xever reference their mutation into Dog Pound and Fishface in the season 1 episode "The Gauntlet", and also Dog Pound's double-mutation into Rahzar in the season 2 episode "Mikey gets Shellacne".

*Zeck and Steranko reference their mutation into Bebop and Rocksteady in the season 3 episode "Serpent Hunt".


I love stories that focus almost entirely on the villains of the cartoon.  The antagonists tend to be way more interesting than the heroes and their own day-to-day challenges can be just as entertaining as whatever the protagonists are up to.  If you want, I'd recommend checking out the Transformers episode "Webworld", the only episode of the series done from the POV of the Decepticons.  Or, if you want something more relevant, the Fred Wolf TMNT episode "The Big Rip Off" is mostly seen from the perspective of Shredder and Krang (and for that reason it's one of my favorites).

In "Job Security", we see a day in the life of the Foot Mutants, who are all so much fun they could carry their own cartoon devoid of the Ninja Turtles.  Admittedly, all the hench-mutants in the Nick cartoon have suffered from serious cases of "villain decay", all being introduced as insanely powerful in their first appearances, and immediately being reduced to inept stooges by their second episodes.  Writer Ian Flynn, best known for his work on Archie's Sonic the Hedgehog and Mega Man books, actually taps that reality for some pretty good commentary.

Back when I reviewed the Nick TMNT episode "New Friend, Old Enemy", I lamented that characters like Bradford and Xever were way cooler in their human forms and actually became less threatening upon being mutated.  Flynn-via-Shredder dredges that opinion up and all of the Foot Mutants opine what's become of them in their new forms.  Flynn even drops references to how they almost seem to be getting deliberately weaker, like how Fishface never uses his venomous bite anymore (an ability, when introduced, was shown to be very powerful).  While much of the meta-commentary is on the nose, I still appreciate it being acknowledged.

Flynn does an excellent job of capturing the voices of the characters; all the little nuances are there and he's definitely a guy who watched the show before submitting his script.  He also tosses in a couple nods to the '80s cartoon, like Bebop boasting, "I ain't cuttin' them Turtle Boys no slack!"  If you've read his Sonic or Mega Man comics, Flynn's scripts tend to be reference-heavy, often delving into minutia, but it makes for some momentarily amusing Easter eggs (the fact that his Mega Man comics even acknowledged the old Ruby-Spears cartoon made me giddy).

I'm still loving Chad Thomas' pencils; his style is the perfect blend of action, comedy and "cuteness".  It hits that Nick TMNT aesthetic right in the sweet spot.  He puts a lot of humor into the expressions of the Foot Mutants, who aren't nearly as malleable in the cartoon due to the limits of CG animation.  The bit where they bump into each other in the alley makes for some great visual comedy as they transition from surprise, to faux-nonchalance, to anger.

There are some lettering errors in the issue.  I won't say they bring it down, but they do fuck up one of Flynn's in-jokes (the aforementioned bit where Bebop quotes the cartoon theme song).  That's really the only negative I have about this issue, and it's a small one.

So the next Amazing Adventures arc is already starting out strong.  Honestly, I know I take forever to review these issues, but it's not because the comics are BAD.  I like them a whole lot.  It's just that the lack of a hook from issue to issue allows me to keep getting distracted with other projects.  If you can make your peace with the episodic storytelling, this title is actually full of great art and comedy.