Tag Archives: TMNT

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2014

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Well, here it is. The big one. The return of the heroes in a half shell to the big screen. I’ve made it very clear in the past year that I’m a huge fan of the TMNT, so I was very nervous about my favorite fighting family’s newest film. I was not disappointed. Then again, I went in with dirt low expectations anyway, so that’s not too much of an accomplishment. There is a ton I have to say about it, so instead of breaking it down to the good, the bad, and the ugly, I’ll just list what stood out to me in the movie in no particular order. There will be spoilers. You have been warned.

The Comic Book Style Opening and Narration: The opening scene and narration, animated in a comic book-like style, was fantastic. It looks cool and is a great shout out to the original comic and style of flashback of the 2012 series.

April O’Neal: You may have well just called this April O’Neal the Movie. The first quarter of the film is wasted on April trying to get a scoop and the Turtles are barely there. It wouldn’t be so bad if she was an interesting character, but she was as interesting as watching painting dry and just would not leave. Meghan Fox just did not make a good April. She held a perpetual look of dull surprise, with her mouth hanging open more than Bella Swan and was gasping for breath so much that I was beginning to wonder if she was asthmatic. To top off all of that, the way the camera lingers on her, showing exactly why Meghan Fox was picked: to objectify her. No joke, there is a scene where a character crashes the truck that he was driving because he was so busy staring at her butt. The majority of Mikey’s jokes are about how he thinks she’s hot. There’s also the issue that the Turtles owe everything to her, right down to their names. She’s even the one who defeats the Shredder in the end. Not the Turtles or Splinter, who have trained as ninjas practically all their lives, it’s the April who ends up killing the Turtles’ arch nemesis. All things considered, since Shredder was the one who caused the death of her dad, he’s more her enemy than the Turtles’. This is because…

There is No Mention of Hamato Yoshi: One of the defining aspects of Splinter and Shredder’s characters is their intense rivalry. Whether by mutation or murder, the man, Hamato Yoshi is dead. Splinter his avenger and their rivalry is one of the bitterest in comic book history. In the movie’s origin, Splinter is simply a mutated and highly intelligent rat. Without any mention of Hamato Yoshi, the mutual hatred is gone, and so has a lot of the drama in their battle. While their battle in the movie is really well done, it lacks the dramatic weight of this rivalry and feels a lot less satisfying.

The Action Scenes Are Very Cool: Being a movie with Micheal Bay attached to it, many of the explosion laden action scenes are a ton of fun and where the movie really shines. After the somewhat boring first half, the movie really picks up at around the time the Turtles have in their battle on the Subway. It’s a definite step up from the opening plot where April wants to become a respectable reporter. This is where the movie goes from excruciatingly boring to silly and fun. The action scenes alone are almost worth slogging through the boring beginning.

There Are Many Pointless Characters: What was Verne doing here? All he does is flirt with April, drive the getaway car, and fight Eric Sacks. Two out of three of these actions would and should have been done by April herself. Nothing in the movie would have been lost if they had edited him out of the script. Well, maybe one thing, but we didn’t need another male gaze shot and more awkward flirtations with April anyway. Speaking of Eric Sacks, he ended taking the parts of Karai and Baxter Stockman because everyone kicked up an understandable fuss over him being the Shredder. That managed to void all three characters because why have Karai and Stockman when you could have Sacks and vise versa? What saddens me most is the fact that Karai goes from the complex and interesting Anti Villain from the two most recent animated series and the Mirage comics to the token dark sexy chick that does absolutely nothing. They left out all of the parts that makes her a great character–namely the conflict between her duty and what is right and the mutual respect between her and Leo–so she also could be edited out of the film or replaced by a lamp and nothing would have changed.

The Turtles Themselves: Shockingly, I didn’t hate them. With the exception of Donatello waving a neon sign saying IN CASE YOU DON’T GET IT, I’M A NERD in every other line of his dialogue, they actually stayed very true to themselves. Out of the five Ninja Turtles movies, these Turtles behaved the the most in character. I was the most nervous about Leonardo because writers have a tendency to make him a jerk just to make Raph look in the right for rebelling. To do this, they’d completely ignore all of Leo’s character development in order to martyr the preferred brother. When I came into the theater, I expected my favorite Turtle’s characterization to be skewered worse than Superman murdering Zod. I expected to rant about how we’ve seen Raph go from “Grr I’m a loner so don’t boss me around” to “teamwork is awesome” in practically every iteration of the character, and that I’m sick of it, but surprisingly it didn’t happen. They treated Leonardo with dignity and actually made Raph look in the wrong for whining about his brother being bossy. The arc is still there, but due to another issue that I’ll get to in a minute, it’s somewhat downplayed. When the brothers are onscreen, they behave just like that: brothers. There are even scenes that I though I’d hate from the trailer and the online footage that was actually quite good in the context of the film. One example is the elevator scene. In the scene, the Turtles are taking an elevator up to face the Shredder for the climax. Mikey starts clanging his nunchucks to the beat of the elevator beeps. Slowly but surely, the other Turtles join in with their own weapons and they do this until the doors open. When I first saw the scene online, I cringed because I thought it would be a major mood killer. In the film though, it worked because it had significance. It was the brothers realizing that they might not all make it out alive so they may as well have one last fun moment together.That being said, I wish we had more of the Turtles because they were easily the best parts of the film. Unfortunately, the movie wastes most of its time on April when it could be developing the Turtles’ relationships. I mentioned the ever popular loner Raphael character arc being in the movie, but barely there. It’s hinted at but nothing is done with it. In the end, he just starts a blubbering confession about his love for his brothers seemingly out of nowhere and suddenly decides that teamwork is awesome, especially is Leo is the leader. Because this personality trait is rarely touched upon in the movie, the confession lacks the dramatic weight it should have had. While Leo is well done, Raph deferring to his leadership doesn’t make much sense because Leo hasn’t really proved himself to be a good leader. He’s just leader now because that’s his character in every other iteration. I guess I’ll chalk that change up to the near death experiences.

Overall, is this worth a watch? Yes, but wait until it’s on cable. Out of the five theatrical movies, this one is probably the second best, but considering the competition is Vanilla Ice randomly rapping, the Turtles traveling back in time, and stone warriors hunting for thirteen monsters and messy characterizations, that isn’t saying much. The first movie is still by far the best, but this is enjoyable despite the Swiss cheese plot, terrible villain motivations, the loss of very important relationships between characters,  obviously re-shot scenes, the pointless characters, and way too much focus on April. When the Turtles were one screen, the movie got so much more fun and enjoyable. I even got past their and Splinters’ somewhat grotesque designs. They all behaved in character and were likable. I can only hope they focus on the Turtles more in the sequel. This is by no means a good movie, but once you slog through the first twenty minutes, it gets to be really entertaining. I guess the reason I’m not angry is because there is nothing particularly offensive to me. The low expectations I had didn’t hurt my opinion either. I knew it wasn’t going to be a masterpiece going in, so I just went along for the ride. I knew that, even if the movie was going to be bad, there was still plenty of other great Ninja Turtle stories out there. For example, the trailer to the season two finale of the current cartoon looks awesome. Seriously, if you haven’t checked it out, look it up. My theories for the future of the cartoon are as follows: 1. They’re adapting my favorite Turtles storyline, the What Goes Around Comes Around/Shredder Strikes Back arc with Leo in the Finale. I believe this because Leo is seen fighting the Foot alone, is barely interacting with his brothers in the trailer and April is essentially replacing him as the fourth member of the group. 2. Splinter will be captured be the Kraang. This is supported by scenes being shown of the Kraang attacking the lair. Whether or not he’s rescued by the end of the episode, I don’t know, but I doubt it. 3. The ending will be a bit of a downer, with the Turtles exiled to Northampton Massachusetts as per tradition. Leo is badly injured, and the Turtles are recover from a Pyrrhic victory. This is supported by the Ninja Turtles Panel at the San Diego Comic Con, where they mentioned that the Turtles will be leaving New York.  Of course, these is just my personal theories, and are probably wrong, but a girl can dream. Now, if you excuse me, I have a Tome of some sort that I need to find.

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TMNT 2007

Hello I’m a unicorn. *sigh* Shredder?

possible meme to use

Owned by IDW

Thanks.

If you’re trying to turn that into a meme, it seems kinda forced.

No, I–well–shut up! Anyway, oh deary me, this movie.  I’ll just get it out there right now: objectively, it’s not a bad movie. It’s actually quite good, but there are certain aspects of this film I loathe with a burning passion and you’ll see why in a minute. I think that my feelings will probably be best explained in bullet form, and separated into the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good:

  • The Animation: Say what you want about the movie, but it is beautifully animated. The city looks grimy and lived in, without being grim or dark. The film has a unique look and that works in it’s favor. The Turtles have never looked better when fighting or expressing a wide range of emotions.
  • The Voice Acting: It’s top notch. Every character has a distinct voice and they carry the story really well. The celebrity voice actors are kept to a minimum, preferring use actual voice actors, which is how animated movies should be done. Sarah Michelle Gellar, who played April in the movie, was almost unrecognizable. In my opinion, she would actually be an amazing April O’Neal in a live action film as opposed to Meghan Fox (I’ll get to that casting decision if I see the new movie). Anyway, with the exception of the extremely recognizable Mako as Splinter, I never saw people in a sound booth, I just saw the Turtles.
  • The Fight Scene Between Raph and Leo: It’s a beautifully animated and brutal culmination of all the tension between the brothers. There are parts that I hate about it, which I’ll get to later, but credit needs to be given where it’s due, and that was a fantastic fight scene.
  • The Themes and Message: The main story is about brothers who have been estranged coming together again. That is a beautiful concept and would make for a great plot for a Ninja Turtles film, but…

The Bad:

  • The Plot: So, here it goes: 3000 years ago, a great general and his family accidentally opened a portal to another world, unleashing 13 monsters, granting the general immortality, and turning his family to stone. Now that the conditions are right, the general wants to send these monsters back from whence they came and break the curse. What does this have to do with the Turtles? Nothing. They literally stumble upon this with sheer, dumb, bad luck. They don’t even meet the general until the very end of the film.The majority of the run time is the Turtles trying to become a team again after Leo left the group for reasons never explained in the film. Look, if you’re going to break up the Turtles, that’s fine, but please explain why they were broken up, because otherwise, the character arc just falls flat. For all I know, Leo was sent away because he couldn’t decide who will get the last slice of pizza. Also, Karai is in the movie, probably because she was a popular character in the 2003 show. She doesn’t do much, she’s just there.
  • Donny And Mikey: Well, they certainly existed in this film. Nothing much can be said about them. They were pretty much supporting characters in the Leo/Raph show, which brings us the one of the worst aspects of the film…

The Ugly:

  • Leo’s Characterization And That Line. You Know The One: Ugh. Leo saying that he’s better than Raph to his face has got to be as bad as or worse than Pa Kent saying that maybe Clark should have let a bus full of kids die. Do you know why I hate the line so much? It’s not because it didn’t make sense in the context of the movie, and it’s not because it gives Raph yet another reason to be the perfect martyr in the situation. It’s because Leo is the character I always looked up to and identified with. He is the character that I’ve always admired for his devotion to his family, his leadership skills, his ability to look for and seethe best in people and most of all, his humility. The Leo I know and love would never say anything like this, which is a part of the reason he’s my favorite. He never had to say that he was awesome, he just was. Whenever I got into an argument with my family, I’d take a step back and ask myself what Leo would do in this situation. Growing up, I never wanted to be like Superman or Captain America. I wanted to be like Leonardo the Ninja Turtle, so when I see this character treated so horribly in this movie, it hurts me. It hurts me that the writer, Kevin Monroe, was so interested in making Raph seem like some sort of martyr who has to learn how to control his anger for the thirtieth time that he forgets to give my childhood hero motivation for being a jerk. It hurts me that, in the end, Raph is vindicated, and they win not by Leo’s leadership and their camaraderie, but by Casey and April delivering a macguffin to them. Leo never proves himself to be a good leader, which makes all his character motivations and arc moot. Also, I’m sick of Raphael. I don’t hate him, I’m just tired of his character arc being done over and over in every cartoon, movie, and comic. He’s the low hanging fruit which writers pick. I’d like to see movie where Mikey or Donny get a major character arc, instead of Raph, once again, learning that his brothers are there for him no matter how much he angsts. It frustrates me that Leo is always the bossy bad guy who is only there to drum up some brotherly conflict with Raph while the other two Turtles fade to the background. One thing I loved about the 2003 show is that whenever Leo and Raph fought, which was fairly rare, they both had valid arguments. None of those conflicts as felt forced as the one in this movie, where Leo’s logic makes no sense and he’s being an arrogant idiot. It hurts and angers me to see my favorite Turtle, the one who I try to emulate and has affected everything about me right down to my favorite color, be reduced to a smug jerk for the sake of the contrived plot. This is what prevents me from enjoying the movie more than anything else. I can forgive the confusing plot, the vital information left out, and the other two Turtles fading into the background, but the treatment of one of my heroes is just awful.

Even though I ranted, overall, the movie is pretty decent. It’s definitely the second best out of the cinematic appearances, but considering that the competition is the one with Vanilla Ice and the one I reviewed last week, that’s not saying much. If you can get past the plot, the warping of Leo’s character and backstory for the sake of being foil for Raph and the lack of Donny and Mikey, it still is an entertaining Turtles flick, just not the masterpiece it was trying to be. If you adore Leonardo like I do, you might be angered by it, but otherwise, it still is worth checking out. So what are you waiting for? Watch it now, but seriously writers, just stop it with the Raph/Leo conflict, it’s been done to death. Follow IDW’s example and put some tension between Leo and Donnie, that would be cool to see. Next post, to round out Turtles Month, I’ll talk about the single greatest crossover in Saturday Morning Cartoon history, Turtles Forever, and I can give up ranting for the moment.

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III

Hello, I’m a unicorn. PAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIN!!!!!!!!! Every synapses, every thought is filled with the white hot agony! Every part of my soul weeps in misery at this abomination against Ninja Turtles and film. This movie is atrocious, worse than the Spirit! There is no other word to describe it, it is just so bad.

How about terrible, abominable, dreadful, horrible…

I don’t care, Textbox! Let’s just get this over with. There are so many grievances, I’m just going to bullet point them, but first, I’ll start off with the bearable aspects of this film.

The Bearable:

  • Elias Koteas: He was as enjoyable as always, and easily the best part of the movie. Every minute he was on screen was a minute that was at least a little bit less painful.
  • The Fight Scenes: Out of the three live action movies, this had the best action sequences, mainly because, unlike the second film, they got to actually use their weapons. While they wasn’t nearly as gritty and brutal as the first and fourth films, the scenes were a nice reprieve from the rest of the stupidity.
  • Raph and Yoshi: Maybe because I have a soft spot in my heart for kids, but I enjoyed the interactions between a little boy  with anger issue named Yoshi and Raph. It was kind of cute.
  • The Concept: Ninja Turtles versus samurai in feudal Japan? Awesome! This concept could have been really freaking cool except…

The so awful I think my ears are bleeding and my IQ is dropping exponentially:

  • The execution: The plot is so generic that literally anyone could have been in the lead roles no one would be the wiser. The basic plot is that a samurai prince and April O’Neal switch places due to wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff and a magic scepter, so the Turtles rush after her. Hilarity ensues, the Turtles help in a rebellion against an evil Daimyo and mustache twirling British trader, and the typical time travel shenanigans occur. This is one of the more frustrating aspects of the film. The Turtles are no strangers to time travel, they even have an ally who is an apprentice time traveler/part time valley girl named Renee, and one of their biggest villains is Savanti Romero, who is basically a goat creature wannabe Time Lord. The movie even had the time scepter, which allows the heroes and villains to travel through time. Wouldn’t it have been cool if these Renee and Romero showed up? Or if they didn’t want that, why not explore the origins of the Foot Clan? That would have been fascinating, but nope! All we got was a generic and time travel plot, which would have been fine with the right amount of humor and clever dialogue, but…
  • The Humor is painful: There was not a single joke that made me laugh, which is sad because they tried, they really tried. Every time of dialogue for the Turtles was a joke or pop culture reference, but they didn’t fall flat, they were dropped from an airplane and run over by a steam roller. Basically, take every corny, dated joke from the first movie, and take away any of the clever humor and heartwarming dialogue between the brothers, and that’s every agonizing spoken line in this movie. Lame jokes would have been tolerable, if they knew when to shut up, but no. Nearly every moment they were on screen, they were talking with no sign shutting up and letting the audience just absorb the moment or enjoy a fight scene. They just kept talking until I was begging for a minute of reprieve from the stupidity.
  • The Costumes: Do you remember how awesome the costumes were in the first movie? How they looked like actual living creatures and not puppets? Well, here are your nightmares for the week:

    AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!! These abominations owned by New Line Cinema

    At many points in the movie, you can even see the seams where the head attaches to the neck. Also, the Splinter puppet was only seen from the waist up and was just awful. But one of the most irritating parts is that the lips don’t match up to what they’re saying, so I kept imagining that they had just dubbed over the good jokes in post production. *Sigh*

  • The Time Travel Physics Make No Sense: Okay, so the rules are that to travel through time, there has to be an equal amount of matter displaced, and the travelers switch clothes when they arrive in the different time periods, but then they go around and break those rules willy nilly. I’m pretty sure that April and the samurai prince have different body masses, and for whatever reason, April was allowed to bring her walk man along, which breaks the two rules set in the movie. It’s the same with the Turtles, Mikey is the only one to put on pants, so only one of the replacement samurai arrives in pants, but the rest arrive in that undergarments that they were already wearing. What? Also, I’m pretty sure that, once again, the Turtles and samurai tourists also have differing body masses. There was another stupid rule that they had sixty hours to find April or else they’d be stuck there forever, because of timey wimey stuff and I don’t get why the rule was put into place because it never comes into play.

Overall, avoid this movie like the plague. The few decent parts are overshadowed by the agony of everything else. If you want to see a good Ninja Turtles movie, check out the first one, or next week’s movie. All I can hope is that this is the lowest of the low, and we can only get better from here.

What about Next Mutation?

What Next Mutation? I’ve never heard of that.

You mentioned it in your last post, and tweeted about it as you watched an episode.

Look, Textbox, the first rule of Next Mutation is that no one talks about Next Mutation. It. Never. Existed. Anyway, what are you waiting for, check out one of the good Ninja Turtles comics, movies, or TV shows, just avoid this mess of a movie.

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Tales of the TMNT #43

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Since today is Valentines day, I thought I’d look at one of my all time favorite comic book couples, Casey Jones and April O’Neal in a very special engagement issue.

Casey and April, sitting in a tree, k-i-s-s-i-n-g–

There you are Textbox, where have you been?

Different places. You’ll see…You’ll all see…

Okay, ominous. Anyway, the issue opens with Casey’s good-for-nothing cousin Sid, who has now joined the Foot Clan. He’s washing the floors of the headquarters when two other ninjas overhear his complaints and taunt him. As Sid snivels and begs them not to hurt him, the ninjas start to brag about a new mission that Karai has given them. The Foot Mystics have foreseen that an ancient and powerful ring may be in the city. The heart shaped ruby in the ring can grant immortality, and it’s their chance to win Karai’s favor, but Sid needs to stay away.

So, let me get this straight. These two guys just randomly decide to brag to an underling, give him an idea of what this super-duper-chocolaty ring looks like and tell him that the ninja who finds the ring will be rewarded, just so they can tell him it’s none of his concern?  If it wasn’t his concern, why bring it  up in the first place?

Beats me, but, of course, Sid has seen the ring before. It belonged to his grandmother and was bequeathed to Casey. We cut to Casey, who is in the lair with the Turtles. He’s showing the Turtles the ring and is nervous about proposing to April. We get some funny dialogue with the TMNT trying unsuccessfully to give their friend support. Sid calls Casey to ask if he still has the ring and Casey yells that Sid can’t have it because he’s “gonna give it to my girl this weekend at the Farmhouse,” so Sid had better stay away. Smooth move Casey, now Sid knows exactly when and where he’ll be with the ring. Brilliant, absolutely brilliant.

We move on to Casey and April, as Casey not so subtly hints at his plans and they banter a bit. I like this dialogue because it isn’t mushy or gag-worthy, it’s just a couple who are talking like normal human beings who happen to be in love. We cut to the Turtles, who are preparing to leave and support their friends. They say their goodbyes to Casey’s daughter, Shadow, who is left in the care of Splinter. There is a silent page showing the Turtles hitching a ride on a train, Casey and April sitting in comfortable silence, and Karai looking determined while riding in a helicopter. Casey and April arrive at the Farmhouse and head inside to pack for a picnic as the Foot and the Turtles arrive. The Turtles discuss their excitement over Casey’s proposal, and hide when Leo hears the lovebirds coming.

The couple eats lunch as Casey works up the courage to pop the question. April suspects what’s going on and tries to put Casey at ease, but he panics and runs off to use the little vigilante’s room. The Turtles pop out of the bushes and give him the tuxedo that they had brought along and a pep talk. He returns to April and pulls out the ring. Just before April can say yes, Sid, Karai, and the Foot attack and take the ring. The Turtles intervene and Leo asks her why the clan has gone back on their truce. Karai explains that they only want the ring, and they retreat in a puff of smoke just as the Turtles attack. Casey apologizes about losing the ring and, in one of the sweetest moments of the issue, April says that she doesn’t care about the ring, she cares about him. She makes a ring out of some nearby flowers and Casey finishes his proposal. April, of course, says yes, and they kiss to the cheers of the Turtles.

Elsewhere, Karai realizes that the gem was worthless, and has the Foot Mystics punish Sid. The Mystics mutilate Sid until he looks like the the Cryptkeeper in Tales From the Crypt. Sid realizes that he should have died but didn’t, because the ruby wasn’t the source of immortality, it was the ring itself.

Overall, this issue is recommended. While there are a few head-scratchers, most noticeably with people randomly blurting out things most people would keep to themselves, the art isn’t that great, and the ending being sort of anticlimactic, the rest of the issue is pretty solid. It’s less focused on action and more on the interactions between Casey and April and the dialogue reflects that. It’s witty and realistic when it doesn’t involve cousin Sid. So what are you waiting for? Read it now, and may you have a happy Valentines doing what you love with whoever you love, whether it’s a romantic love, a love between family, or a love between friends.

“Hey Kirin, have Scully and Mulder called back yet?” Textbox asked. Kirin put the communicator in her pocket and headed to the basement.

“Nope, and I’m beginning to get worried. You think they could have gotten in trouble?” she replied. She took a sheet off an old bookcase in the corner of the room.

“I dunno, maybe they’re just busy or stopped for a bite of chimichanga. Man, I could go for some chimichanga right now, or a coookie, or a chimichanga cookie.” Kirin grunted as she pushed the bookcase along the wall.

“I hope you’re right.” She pushed it next to the fusebox and began to pile boxes of old junk in front of the case.

 “What’cha doing?”

“It just occurred to me, why am I leaving this portal to Odin knows where open for creatures to sneak through? I’d originally wanted to leave it unblocked for Lilly and Eli, but since it’s been a few hours and they haven’t called back, I should probably make sure our house is at least a little secure from invaders,” she explained. She felt her communicator buzz in her pocket and chuckled. “Typical. I should have barricaded the portal two hours ago,” she muttered as she read the message from her allies, “Uh-oh.”

“Uh-oh? What do you mean “uh-oh”?” Textbox asked.

“I mean that they’re in deep trouble, and we’re the only ones who can help,” Kirin replied.

“Oh, that kind of uh-oh.”

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Tales of the TMNT #46

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Every great villainous organization has an army of faceless underlings. The Empire has Stormtroopers, Malekith has that creepy Dark Elf army, and Hydra has its foot soldiers. If you’re anything like me, you start to wonder about the mooks being killed by our heroes. Do they have families? How did they get involved with this evil organization? Do they know that they’re the villains, or do they think that they are the good guys? What do they talk about on their coffee breaks? Are they frustrated that their superior numbers and training cannot take our those rebels with “can do” attitudes?

This issue delves into the life of a low level Foot Clan initiate named Tomi, a teenager who joins the Foot Clan after his dad is killed in the clan’s service. Although they don’t outright say it, I suspect that the Turtles unknowingly killed him. He works at the coffee shop that April frequents, and they are friends. Tomi is a talented musician and has started teaching his little brother, Jiro, to play the guitar. Since his Dad is gone, he’s become the man of the house, and is really close to his family. All in all, he’s a pretty likable guy, and that’s what makes the story so sad. Since the cover actually spoils the ending (seriously what is with that?), I don’t feel bad giving it away as well. He is killed by Raphael in his first battle. Raphael, of course, did it in self defense, but he still did it without remorse. It makes you wonder about the kind of heroes you’re rooting for.

Even more tragic, though, is that when Tomi is brought home in a body bag, his sweet little brother, who is about eight or nine, promises his mother that they will have revenge. This could go two ways, and neither of them are preferable. Jiro could either die in his first battle against the Turtles, like his brother and presumably, his father, or follow in the Shredder’s footsteps (uhh… no pun intended). If you remember in my TMNT #1 review, Oroku Saki was a little boy when Hamato Yoshi killed his brother, Nagi, over Tang Shen. Jiro would start training with the Foot Clan, become the most skilled out of all of them, and eventually try to get his vengeance on the Turtles. Either way, the cycle of vengeance will continue and it will not be pretty.

This issue is great. Even though you know that Tomi is going to die, every part of you wishes that he wouldn’t, and it’s even more heart wrenching that his brother will choose to follow the same path. I love stories told from the underling’s perspective, because I find them very interesting and they usually add a different perspective to the main protagonists. This issue actually reminds me of the Samurai Jack episode, “The Tale of X9,” which was equally tragic. The episode follows a sentient killer robot called X9 who grew to love a puppy named Lulu. He is blackmailed into coming out of retirement and trying to kill Jack in order to save the one thing he cares about. Like this issue, you root for him, even though you know that he’s going to die, and are sad when the hero wins. If I had one criticism, it would be that I’m not crazy about the artwork, which is fine on the Turtles, but makes the humans look strange. It’s a minor criticism, and doesn’t detract from this great story. So what are you waiting for? Read it now.

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TMNT 2012 Series So Far

Hello, I’m a unicorn. Here we go the lean, green ninja team, on the scene, cool teens doing ninja things, so extreme, out the sewers like laser beams, get rocked with the shell-shocked pizza kings… yeah the 2012 show decided borrow from the infamous ninja rap from Secret of the Ooze as well as being a remix of the eighties theme. If the 1980’s turtles is Adam Wests Batman and the 2003 series is Justice League Unlimited, this show would be the Teen Titans of the franchise. It even has a similar anime-esque style of animation. So for the end of Turtles month and the beginning of the new year, I decided to to take a look at the newest incaernation of everyone’s favorite crime fighting reptiles. When Nickelodeon bought the rights to the TMNT, I naively thought that the series was going to be a continuation of my beloved 2003 series. Instead, I got this. At first, I was nervous when I found out that it wasn’t going to be the case. I’m not crazy about CGI shows and prefer traditional animation, so when I saw the designs for the Turtles, I got scared.

Not my style at first, but it has grown on me.

I initially thought that they were too blocky and strange, but now they’ve grown on me, especially after seeing the promo video of a training session. Before the video, I expected to hate the show, the video, I got excited, in spite of myself.  When I started watching the show I was initially distracted by the goofy anime faces the Turtles would sometimes pull, and was wondering how the show would balance the choice in style and the serious matters that the 2003 series dealt with. But, I was again pleasantly surprised by how well the show combines comedy and tragedy. So, beware of spoilers  (seriously, there is a huge one), because I’m diving into the basic plot and characters.

Basic Plot: After the deaths of Tang Shen and his daughter, Miwa, at the hands of the Shredder, Hamato Yoshi moves to New York City. The day he purchases four small Turtles, a strange man bumps into him in the street. Sensing something off about the character, Yoshi follows the man into an alley. Here, he sees another man hand the stranger a canister full of strange mutagen. A rat gives away Yoshi’s position, and he is mutated with the Turtles in the ensuing fight. He then takes up the name of Splinter (again, not adequately explained why he changes his name) and trains the four Turtles in ninjutsu. On their fifteenth “mutation day” the four turtles head to the surface for the first time and encounter a teenage April O’Neal as she and her father are being kidnapped by and alien race known as the Kraang.  These were the same creatures who mutated the Turtles and they are plotting, you guessed it, to take over the world. And Textbox if you even think about quoting M. Bison in that Street Fighter movie, I swear I’ll…

*turns around dramatically* OF COURSE!

*sigh* It was inevitable, wasn’t it?

About as inevitable as Mikey eating pizza.

I thought so. You do realize that meme died in 2011, right?

You’re the one writing this.

Great, a meta joke. You know what?  I’m just going to ignore you now.

Fine!

Fine.

FINE!

Anyway, now that the Turtles know of the Kraang, they must prevent the invasion and terra-forming of Earth while also trying not to be killed by the Shredder, who still wants revenge on Hamato Yoshi..

The Characters:

Leonardo: As the theme song goes “Leonardo is the leader in blue, does anything it takes to get his ninja through.” This is probably the most fleshed out version of Leo I have ever seen, and he is  freaking adorable. He’s this universe’s equivalent of a Trekkie, who has the show memorized, wants to be just like the hilariously sociopathic Captain Ryan (think of him as hammier Captain Kirk), tries and fails to come up with a cool action phrases, always tries to deepen his voice when he wants to sound heroic, and has huge blue eyes and oooh, I just want to eat him up.

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That picture, by the way, is from the episode where he has a crush on a girl ninja in the Foot Clan and goes to April for advice. D’awww… Erm–anyway, I love how Leonardo isn’t the level-headed and wise leader that the rest of his brothers automatically look to. He’s still learning and inexperienced. He gets frustrated when the rest of the Turtles don’t follow his orders and challenge him, and sometimes wishes he could have fun like the others. He, essentially, acts the same way an actual kid would act if he was under the constant pressure of leading an insubordinate team while having to save the world on a regular basis. Unlike the 2003 Leo, who shows the weight of leadership in a very subtle way, this Leo is more likely to voice his frustrations with the rest of the group, but not in a way that I want to tell him to suck it up and quit his whining. Honestly, I’m surprised that most of the franchise’s writers haven’t used this personality before. It seems so obvious that the sheltered teenage leader of a group of heroes would look up to and emulate a character on a television show and would be frustrated when his brothers disobey his orders. It’s a very clever take on a character many would consider boring.

Donatello: Here’s an interesting fact, this isn’t the fist Turtle that voice actor Rob Paulsen has played. In the eighties, Paulson also was the voice of Raphael, as well as nearly every character from your childhood. The guy is amazing, but I digress. Donatello is the super geeky brother, like pretty much every incarnation, but, unlike the other versions he doesn’t get much respect for his genius. Sure, his brothers find his skills impressive (when they can understand what he’s saying) but Donnie’s often the butt of Raph’s jokes. He, like Leo, is also adorable. You’ll notice that I use this adjective to describe the Turtles and April a lot. Out of the four brothers, he’s the clumsiest and not the best fighter, but his awkwardness makes him even more lovable, especially when April is involved. Donnie has a huge and obvious crush on her, which makes his attempts to court her even funnier. I wasn’t crazy about the crush at first, mainly because I was more used to Donnie and April respecting each other over a mutual love of science, but his unrelenting dorkiness and the humor used in the relationship made me root for him in spite of myself.

Raphael: Out of the four Turtles, he’s the one I wouldn’t use cute for an adjective. He certainly has his moments, especially when he’s scared for his brothers or when interacting with animals. Raph, the gruffest character, is surprisingly good with small creatures. Usually, he is the snarky one who will make fun of his brothers even when they are minding their own business. This incarnation is Raphael at his jerkiness, but he also has a lot of the best lines. Raph is the first to call out Leo when he says something that would otherwise be cheesy.  He constantly exasperates Leo by challenging his authority, even after he sees the burden his brother carries. Even though he and his brother tend to argue, the two tend to trust each other with serious issues that the others wouldn’t understand. For example, Raph keeps Leo and Karai’s relationship between the two of them until it put the rest of the team in danger. Also, like most incarnations, he has anger issues and a tendency to brood, but will always be there for his brothers.

Michelangelo: By most rights, I should hate this character. He is astonishingly stupid most of the time, hyperactive, and goofy, but there is such a charm and innocence to him that I don’t mind it when he does something so dumb that I wonder how he is still alive. I guess that a part of the reason I don’t mind it so much is because his brothers call him out on it when Mikey is an idiot, and that they tend not to give him any respect, even when he gets something right. It’s not like he’s stupid all the time. There are points where he has to be clever and can come up with a plan on his own. He usually just isn’t very focused.  It takes some really good writing to make a character free-spirited and goofy,  but not to a point where he is annoying. His innocence is what makes him so charming.

April O’Neal: She is the target of the Kraang because of some sort psychic ability that allows her to be more in tune with the universe. Like her other incarnations, April is tenacious, stubborn, and determined, especially when it comes to her missing dad.  She also acts as the Turtles connection to the outside world. She’s been captured more that the 2003 April, but mainly because she is specifically targeted by the villains. I don’t really mind that she was captured at least three times in the first season, because she is also being trained by Splinter and has begun to hold her own in a fight. I also don’t mind that she has been de-aged to a teenager as opposed to the usual twenty-something adult she usually is portrays. This way, she is more like a sister than the other incarnations. Like I said, I like Donnie’s crush on her because it is mostly meant as a joke, but I just don’t want a love triangle between him and Casey Jones. (No, I won’t talk about Casey yet, mainly because he has only appeared in two episodes so far and hasn’t interacted with the Turtles.) I really don’t like love triangles, but if they do it and do it well, I might make an exception. April, like the rest of the character on the show, is charming and fun to a point that I don’t mind her tendency to become a damsel in distress.

Splinter: This is probably the most fun and tragic version of Splinter.  He is very dignified, but also has the funniest lines in the show and constantly jokes with and trolls his sons. His sense of humor almost distracts you from the inherent sadness of the character. This is someone who has lost everything, from his wife, daughter, and home to even his own humanity. There are points, especially when he interacts with April, where the camera will linger on him just long enough to show that he isn’t as cheerful as he appears. Yet, even though he lost everything, he still adores his sons, and isn’t brooding or depressed.

Oroku Karai: This is a major spoiler entry, so if you plan on watching the show, you may want to skip it. You have been warned. Karai is Hamato Miwa, aka Splinter’s daughter who was raised by the Shredder to hate and blame her real father for her mom’s death. That is pretty heart-wrenching for her and especially Splinter. Imagine discovering that your previously believed dead child is alive and well, but hates you with every fiber of her being. Poor Splinter. On the other hand, since Karai and Shredder’s relationship is somewhat strained, she’ll be on Splinter’s side as soon as she truly believes that Oroku Saki is the murderer of her mother and that will take away the tension between the rest of the characters. Personality wise, she is the Catwoman to Leo’s Batman, always tempting him with the darkside and a lack of responsibility. She cares a lot less about loyalty to her “dad” and is willing to disobey him more than the 2003 version.  As of now, she is the only character in the series that would dare to taunt the Shredder, and that is admirable.

Shredder: At first, I didn’t like the Shredder’s voice, mainly because I was more used to the soft, threatening hiss of the 2003 series, so Kevin Michael Richardson’s deep, booming voice took me by surprise. Now that I’m used to it, I really like it. The Shredder is as intimidating, if not even more intimidating than the 2003. Whenever Shredder shows up, any lighthearted episode will quickly become much darker. The best example would be the episode “The Gauntlet” which starts out with a mutant pigeon and ends with the wounded Turtles barely escaping a battle with the Shredder with their lives. While the Turtles and Shredder don’t often interact, when they do, you’re going to need popcorn, because things are about to get good. The new Shredder is awesome, and I am embarrassed by any doubts I had in the beginning.

Bradford/Dogpound/Rahzar and Xever/Fishface: I’m lumping these two together because they are both Shredder’s second in command and an amalgamation of Bebop, Rocksteady, and Hun. Chris Bradford is a world famous martial artist and the Shredder’s protege. He also looks like Chuck Norris, and I find that hilarious. Xever is the sociopathic Leader of the Purple Dragons and the Shredder’s street connection. These two aren’t as interesting or as gleefully evil as Hun, but are certainly more competent that Bebop and Rocksteady.  They are the ones that the Turtles usually fight, and are extremely skilled, but are nearly always defeated by our heroes, even with just “a go-kart and a water balloon.” It’s a long story, and even Shredder was confused about that one. These characters are fine, just a little less memorable than the rest of the characters on the show.

The Kraang: These aliens are an amalgamation of the Utroms and Krang from the eighties. They’re trying to terraform planet Earth so that they can invade, and have a tenuous grasp of English at best. Their dialogue is hilariously redundant, but that doesn’t take away the threat that these aliens pose to the world.

The ones who are known as the Kraang feel the emotion known as annoyance at the one who is known as Kirin for the one known as Kirin mocking the one known as Textbox.

Thank you for that illustration on how they talk. Have a cookie.

Thanks. Can I talk now?

Nope. Anyway, the Kraang are fun villains and a creative take on the character–

But it’s kind of important.

In a minute, just let me finish this. Overall, Nickelodeon’s TMNT is a more that worthy successor to the 2003 series. It manages to blend lighthearted humor with drama and not be corny. I love the 2003 series, but there are moments when they took themselves a little too seriously and came off goofy and cringe worthy. This show knows how to switch from humor to drama smoothly and with minimal cheese. The animation is wonderful and stylistic.  There is an interesting blend of 2-d and 3-d that makes the show have a unique look. It really feels like I’m watching a comic book. I also love the designs for the villains. They all are creative and threatening. Seriously, look up Rahzar’s design, it is awesome. The anime faces take a little getting used to, but now I barely notice it. This show is a love letter to the franchise. There are so many in jokes, references and foreshadowing that you need to watch every episode at least three times in order to catch them all. So what are you waiting for? Watch it now. Booyakasha!

“Booyakasha?” Textbox asked incredulously. Kirin shrugged as she reread her article.

“It is Mikey’s catchphrase,” she replied as she corrected a misspelled would.

“It sounds weird when you say it,” Textbox muttered. Kirin rolled her eyes. and scrolled to the bottom of the page.

“It sounds weird when anyone says it. Now you wanted to tell me something?” she asked as she pressed the save button and closed the window.

“Yeah, you know how Scully and Mulder haven’t contacted us two months?” Kirin glanced up, intrigued by what the inter-dimensional voice in her head had to say. She got up from the rocking chair next to her bed and walked to the nightstand. Picking up the old Ipod  communication device Eli Freud had given her after the Graron attack, she turned it on and saw that there weren’t any messages on it.

“Yeah, what about them?” she asked curiously.

“You may want to call them.”

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Tales of the TMNT #45

Hello, I’m a unicorn. In keeping with what I started last post, (and will probably keep up with for the rest of October) I’ll be looking at another horror themed comic. It, once again, is from the Turtles. This time, though, it surprisingly isn’t a Halloween special. This issue, involving Lovecraftian horrors, was released in April of 2005. I guess that weirdness happens to the Turtles any time of year. Now for the plot.

Donatello, Raphael, and Michelangelo are out camping. Donnie tells them the legend of Dudlytown, a small town from the turn of the century where the residents slowly became deformed and when the livestock were eaten these deformed monsters, the residents of the neighboring towns herded them into a church and just left them there as the town was slowly flooded. The town is gone, but there is a history of disappearances in the area. But it’s only a legend, right? Or is it something more? Perhaps the area is a cursed by an ancient evil, a small part of a cosmic horror, that overshadows the creatures that live there? What if Dudlytown houses such horrors, forgotten and waiting?

You’ll have to read to find out. This comic is great, especially the ending. Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you while reading? This has really only happened to me twice. The first time was Batman: The Black Mirror, which I’ll get to in October, and in this one. The difference between that comic and this is that it wasn’t a dramatic plot twist or as horrifying as it was in Black Mirror. It was a single sound effect and a crack on a stone that took the wind out of me.

My one issue is that the art isn’t as great as Tales #39, but it isn’t awful either. Also, and this isn’t a criticism, it’s just an observation, I think that, like in #39, the 2003 series did the story a little better. In it, the Turtles are brought to the Mansion of C.F. Vopelhart (an anagram for H.P. Lovecraft) while searching for  their friend Angel’s brother. This was one of my favorites because it gave us insight on the Turtles’ deepest fears. Leonardo fears failure (also excellent foreshadowing his wonderful arc in season 4) Raphael fears his anger, Donatello fears the deaths of the people he cares about, and Michelangelo fears betrayal. If you haven’t guessed by now, I love this show and will probably compare it to every TMNT comic I review. I just can’t help myself.

Yeah, you have a problem.

Oh, shut up. That show was awesome.

Says who?

Says me. Anyway, what are you waiting for? This issue is definitely worth a read, so read it now!

Kirin felt her stomach grumble and decided that she could use a midnight snack. She walked to the kitchen pantry and dug around for a bag of chips. When she turned around, she jumped. All of the doors to the cabinets and refrigerators had opened while her back was turned.

“Real cute, Textbox. But if you wanna scare me, you’ll have to do better than that,” she yelled.

“But I didn’t do it,” Textbox replied.

“Of course you did. Are you telling me that the doors magically opened all on their own?” she asked, annoyed.

“No, I’m just saying that I didn’t do it. It’s physically impossible for me to do it.”

“A-are you sure? Maybe this is some ability you just didn’t realize you had,” Kirin half asked half stammered. To the creature’s satisfaction, he could see that she was getting nervous.

We swears it. We swears it on the precious,” Textbox replied. The hairs on the back of Kirin’s neck stood on end. Someone or something was in the house.

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Filed under Comic Books, Storylines