Okay, so starting here we have all-new, all-original stories in the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures title. These are more the reason I was wanting the review this title anyway, so I’m happy that we’re finally done with the adaptations.
This issue also also is the unofficial start to a storyarc that runs through most of the first half of the title, in which many other mutated animals guest star and are eventually featured in their own title, but more on that later. In this issue we’re treated to the introduction of the first of these characters.
The title of this story is “Something Fishy Goes Down,” and it’s true. The Turtles are visiting an aquarium in New Jersey, specifically their manta ray exhibit. A nerdy ocean biologist gives them the low-down on manta rays, giving readers some real science tidbits while also hammering in that pollution is killing them all.
This is another long-running TMNT Adventures plot: pollution. At this point the series started to try and differentiate itself from the television series, and it works rather well. A lot of this was shoving environmentalism in kids’s faces at this time, to various degrees of success, but here it’s handled fine. It’s handled worse later in the series, but one thing at a time.
One credo of this new direction was to get the Turtles out of the city more. As such, this entire episode takes place in New Jersey.
We cut to Shredder’s underwater base, which is a giant frigging sub with teeth and glowering eyes painted on. Noticable is that time must have passed between issues. While Krang is still stuck in Dimension X; Shredder now has access to some technology and Bebop and Rocksteady are now with him, with Baxter Stockman no longer in sight. Krang is angry because Bebop and Rocksteady spilled mutagen into a drain pipe again.
Meanwhile, our marine biologist pets the manta ray as he goes out for the night, then goes to investigate the illegal dumping and gets mutagen on his hand as a result. This comes from that weird psuedo-science that the television series brought to Turtles lore, where it changes you into a humanoid version of the last animal you touched.
On their way back to the city the Turtles are chilling on a beach. Shredder sees them through his telescope and fires a torpedo at them, which is intercepted by a watery black mass. Actually, it’s not intecepted, it’s snagged. The sound effect says snag. Hilarious. The figure aims the torpedo back at Shredder and it damages the sub, forcing him back to base. The water creature follows him and attaches explosives to the sub.
All this time the creature is kept in shadow, but are we really in suspense? I mean, there’s only been one other person in this story. We then get a POV shot of the creature about to fire a harpoon at the explosives attached to the sub, when he sees through a window that Michealangelo and the other Turtles have snuck on board and can’t do it. How he knows that they weren’t the ones who fired the torpedo is anyones guess.
The Turtles fight Bebop and Rocksteady. Rocksteady’s horn ruptures the side of the sub and makes it sink, because apparently it’s made of tissue paper. A torpedo doesn’t sink it but a rhino’s horn does? Seriously, what the hell?
Anyway, Shredder runs like an imbecile again but is caught this time by (dramatic splash page reveal) Man Ray! Man Ray kicks the bejezus out of the Shredder, but once back to shore Shredder pulls some dirty pool by throwing sand in his eyes and running away.
The Turtles stop to help him, but he’s weak when he’s not in the water and dives back in, saying goodbye. The Turtles watch the forth of July fireworks, and the issue ends with Mike’s cry for pizza.
Interesting points for this issue include the leaps in continuity from the previous month, but also: we never really get told that the biologist is Man Ray. I mean it’s implied, but never, ever said. We’ll see if it comes up in later appearances. Also, the biologist is never named. His toy is called “Ray Fillet,” is that supposed to be his name?
I have no idea. The art and storytelling are a little down from last issue, but not terribly. They tried some interesting storytelling techniques, but as seen above, there are a few plotholes that I couldn’t miss even as a child.