Continuing the unofficial storyarc from last month, we see the introduction of another humanoid animal character: this time a alligator named Leatherhead in a story called “Of Turtles and Stones and Mary Bones.”
While all the characters here got at least some play in the television series, Leatherhead got the most. That’s because he was actually in the original Mirage comics, but he’s one character who gets changed a lot. In the Mirage comics and the 2000s tv series he’s a hero, in the 80s series he’s a villain, and here he’s a little of both. You’ll see.
Our story it told mostly from his point of view, but it’s an awkward point of view, like the writer doesn’t quite know how to do it. It starts with him introducing himself as Jess Harley (at least we get a name this time), and to the fact that he was born and raised on the bayou. He investigates the hut of an old swamp witch named Mary Bones to try and find something of wealth he can steal, down on his luck as he is. He finds a large glowing gem and takes it.
We then see him getting off a bus. His thought bubble reads: “Several days later, I arrive in New York City.” This made me do a spit take when I read it. I mean, this would make some sense if it was through caption boxes and told from a future date, but the thought bubble implies he’s thinking it right now. As though he knows he’s being watched by a camera and is narrating to it. It’s be like we getting in my car, driving to work, then when I got there saying to myself: “Fifteen minutes later I arrived at work.” Like he knows we’re skipping time. From his point of view there was no skipped time. This is what I mean by the writing not quite making sense.
They go right from that to a weirdly insightful bit where he notices how close the rich socialites live to the poor, but it’s only implied, not said. It’s good writing right after bad, and is SO strange I actually don’t have words for it. And then we actually switch to caption box narration. It was like the writer realized their mistake earlier but was too lazy to go back and fix it.
Anyway, the Turtle’s bump him as he gets off the bus and the stone falls into the sewer. He chases after it and rubs it clean, only to be confronted by Mary Bones.
This is another interesting bit of subtle writing. It’s played very much like those classic scenes where someone finds and lamp and rubs it clean, revealing the Genie inside. And right after he does it, Mary bones shows up. Also, she hadn’t been present in her home when he broke in: is it possible she was imprisoned in the stone? Just like last issue, we’re not told outright and are left to wonder, which is great writing.
Bones reveals that the gem is actually the TurnStone, a “directional thought trans-animator.” She uses it to turn Jess into Leatherhead as punishment. He tries to chase after her, but falls through a wall and lands in the Shredder’s lair.
This is where the story starts to go by the wayside for me. It started out good, but here it falters and doesn’t recover. First of all, the narration is gone. Second, it’s plagued by coincidences.
Shredder lies to Leatherhead, telling him that Mary Bones is responsible for Bebop and Rocksteady’s mutations as well, and that the Turtles are her henchmen. What follows is the classic “heroes fight over misunderstanding” sequence, until Rapheal manages to convince Leatherhead that they’re on the same side.
Meanwhile, Shredder tells Krang about the Turnstone, and Krang recognizes it and Mary Bones as natives of Dimension X. Apparently the Turnstone is a device of extreme power. Shredder goes to interrupt the fight and try to milk more information out of Leatherhead, who throws a fit and accidentally hurls himself off a bridge, seemingly to his death.
Mary Bones then confronts the Turtles, quickly laying a prophecy on them that although they lost today, they will win the “final battle.” She randomly disappears, then the issue ends with a weak cliffhanger and Rapheal looks over his shoulder and screams: “What’s That?!”
(The cliffhanger is lame because you can tell by the way it’s done that the two issues will have nothing to do with each other.)
The art is lackluster again this issue. I think maybe Ken Mitchroney was rushed and dealing with a tight schedule and hand trouble with getting these out monthly. The story falters too though, like I said above. Aside from a few POV mistakes I like the first part that focused on Jess better. I would have liked if the entire issue had been about him, with the Turtles only showing up to bump into him accidentally. That would have been a cool, ironic twist. But it quickly derides into cliche superhero bullshit.
It’s not the worst, but it’s very contrived.