From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays, No. 158
Welcome back readers to another edition of our all-ages comics column, From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays! This week on a little time between wedding planning I watched the creatively titled film This Girl Is Badass!! (that’s right, so bad she got two whole exclamation marks in the title). The film is produced by the company that did all those Tony Jaa films, like Ong-Bak and The Protector, and stars Jeeja Yanin, star of other Thai-martial arts films, most famously Chocolate. Now while the film had its ups and downs, it had this great sense of awkward humor to it and it made me miss what I think is the original American martial arts comedy: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!
Ah yes, maybe it is because I am a child of the late 1980s/early 1990s, but between the animated X-Men, Batman, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and live action Power Rangers (we’ll be looking at the Rangers in our column two weeks from now), I think the 1990s had the strongest TV since the early 1960s. Of course as any one would know, the TMNT went from comics to cartoon, and then as many fondly remember the cartoon inspired a line of Archie comic books called Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Adventures, which regularly shows up on the greatest all-age comics of all time lists these days. After all these years, old issues of TMNT Adventures are passionately sought out and hunted down (if you have a tip-off on the TMNT Adventure Special with the Screaming Skull story, shoot me an e-mail), and current TMNT comics publisher IDW has picked up on this, reprinting the old series in collected editions, and finally starting their own new line of cartoon tie-in comics, this time tied into the current series on Nickelodeon, titled Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles New Animated Adventures!
The second issue of the new series is off to a speedy start, and to really tell about the plot without giving to much away is fairly easy: One night while watching a sci-fi TV marathon, a storm brews and the mutant plant villain Snakeweed returns, causing the entire city to dive into trouble as it’s covered in vines and pods. Of course it’s up to our favorite four heroes to split up in a race against the clock to save the day. There’s not too much more to it than that, nor does there need to be, everything here working with its straight forward, slam-bang kind of fun sense of action.
Writer Kenny Byerly crafts a nice classic feeling action story in these pages, one with a straight forward objective that when paired with the art choice works incredibly well, finding balance and echoing a 1990s comic feeling of sorts. Byerly also makes sure to give a little wink and nod to fans of the classic cartoon in this issue, when a TV camera is rolling and April jumps in front of it to report the news before getting yelled at; a nice touch. On the art side, Brizuela does have to use the character designs of the current TV series (hence the title), however, if you are not a fan of those designs, he still draws a set of mighty smooth looking action sequences sprinkled throughout his solid layouts, making those character designs work really well here while being a double-punch of entertaining and just clean to look at.
Essentially, the new TMNT New Animated Adventures comic does everything it is meant to do: it ties into the show on the air, it supplies great all-ages tales for those who worry about the main IDW title becoming more adult, and it’s fun. Therefore, like its spiritual brother, the Archie TMNT Adventures, it succeeds as an all-ages spin off within the world of the show. Now only time will tell if it leads into its own universe and distances itself from the cartoon eventually, like the Archie series did (one of the great strengths of that classic series).
Out from IDW soon, check it out!
That’s it for this week! I’m getting married next week so From Friendly Ghosts To Gamma Rays will return on Sept. 6th, when we look at the new Power Rangers comics from Papercutz! See you in two, folks!