Alright, so, we’re not long past the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who were a big part of my childhood. Also, many Internet reviewers (notably the Angry Video-Game Nerd) have started their own retrospectives on the fab four, so I thought I’d throw my hat into the ring by reviewing a series that many people forget about: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures series from Archie Comics.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures was a comic book series published from August 1988 to October 1995 by Archie Comics. It is set in an alternate reality to both the original comics and the 1980’s TV show. Although the comic initially started in the same reality as the show, it spun into stories all its own with issue 5 of the regular series and became a legend in its own right, even producing several spinoffs featuring secondary characters. The series is notable in quickly doing away the villains Shredder and Krang because of their overuse on the show and spinning off in their own direction, often featuring the Turtles leaving New York City and their regular supporting characters. It is also notable for having, within its established continuity, a team-up with Archie (meaning that the reality in which THESE Turtles exist is technically the Archie Universe… go figure).
The series lasted for 72 issues; in addition, there were numerous annuals, specials and mini series’. No trade paperbacks of the runs have been collected and published, other than the versions by Random House and Tundra Publishing, but published by Archie, that collected various issues and stories, and were sold with a tape dramatizing the action. Archie did reprint the comics in a digest format series titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Classics Digest which they published quarterly from 1993-1994. These collected TMNTA issues #5-#25.
Anyway, on to the issue itself. This is the first issue of a three-issue miniseries started before the main series’ run. As stated above, these issues are adaptations of the original episodes of the TV series, so the creativity is a little lacking here. But lets give it a fair chance, and (since I’m a completionist) we’ll do it in preparation for the future awesome original stories.
Side-Note: While the cover is a little bland, in the top left corner is an image of Leonardo with a red mask… I’m not sure if this is an error or a nod to the original series, but I think it’s the latter and am dutifully impressed to that regard.
The issue follows the same format of the original TV series, which most people reading this review will have seen a dozen or more times, so I’m not going to so a shot-for-shot review of these issues. It starts with April O’Neil covering a recent crime wave, being attacked by (the human) Rocksteady and his gang and being chased into the sewers, where she is saved by the Turtles. We all know this story. It’s translated pretty exactly, except with not-great art and the same weird issues that the series had, such as: how does the Shredder have video cameras everywhere? Seriously, look back. How are they everywhere?
Side-note: page six has a shot of the Turtles’s lair with a model of the starship Enterprise hanging in the corner. Art opinion for this issue goes up a notch. 😉
So the issue continues as you’d expect, with the Turtles and April discovering the Shredder’s lair and it getting flooded, just like the end of the first episode… and then the next episode starts immediately. Huh? Really? I mean, this isn’t a bad thing… it’s kind of a two-for-one deal… but nowadays an artist who handed in too few pages for an adaptation would be told to pad it more, not told to continue to the next episode. It’s kind of refreshing and non-greedy. Go Archie.
Anyway, the second “chapter” as they’re called quickly follows the plot of the second episode of the series, introducing Krang and mutating Beebop and Rocksteady into their Warthog and Rhino forms, as they would remain for the remainder of the series. Splinter is captured by Shredder and the Turtles follow the trail and discover the Technodrome, only to be attacked by killer robots… and it’s here that the issue ends. Guess there weren’t enough alloted pages to complete episode two.
While the breaking of the stories is odd, it actually ends on a better note. Rather than getting a clear ending, we’ve ended on a fairly decent cliffhanger and I’m enticed to read the next issue. This is good.
What’s not good is the art and dialog. This is a license product, and an adaptation, and many comic fans know that, like in video games, that means the company isn’t placing their top talent on the book. They’re counting on the books title to sell the issues, which they must have, because Archie ordered a full series and eventually got top talent to work on this book.
All in all, it’s not a bad issue. Definitely not as good as the first 1.5 episodes of the series… but it’s a faithful adaptation, and should be a fun read for a kid or a nostalgic adult. I’m going to give this one 5/10. I was tempted to go lower… but honestly, it feels like a five. Not great, but not harmful either.
Here’s hoping the next review will be up soon.
Never Look Back