Wednesday, August 26, 2009

TMNT Adventures #5 – October 1989

“Something Fishy Goes Down”

Credits: Dean Clarrain & Ryan Brown (plot), Dean Clarrain (writer), Ken Mitchroney (penciler), Dave Garcia (inker), Gary Fields (letterer), Barry Grossman (colors)

Issue #5 marks the first original story for the Adventures series, introducing Man Ray, an anthropomorphic manta ray who will eventually receive his own action figure and appear in the cartoon. For years, I assumed this title was put together by Archie staffers, but only recently did I learn that Mirage assembled the creative teams and owns the rights to all of the characters. It was a great thrill to me as a kid to see characters that I followed for years in the Archie series show up in more “official” Ninja Turtles material. Other fans, however, were annoyed by the liberties taken to the characters (Man Ray was apparently renamed…ugh…“Ray Fillet”).

In the Archie Comics canon, Man Ray is an aquarium employee (with no name, as far as I can tell) who is concerned about pollution at the local beach. When he investigates a sewer pipe, he’s exposed to mutagen ooze that Bebop and Rocksteady accidentally spilled earlier. He drifts into the ocean, where he mutates into the animal closest to him, a manta ray.

Meanwhile, the Turtles enjoy a night at the beach. They’re spotted by Bebop and Rocksteady, who are hiding out with Shredder in a nearby submarine. Shredder launches a torpedo, but Man Ray grabs the missile and sends it back to Shredder. Soon, the Turtles invade the submarine and face Bebop and Rocksteady. Shredder escapes, but is tracked down by Man Ray. After Man Ray physically dominates Shredder in the water, he drags him to shore. Shredder kicks sand in Man Ray’s face, which is apparently devastating for manta rays, and escapes again. Man Ray explains to the Turtles that he can’t stay outside of the water for long and jumps back into the ocean. The Turtles say goodbye and enjoy the 4th of July fireworks.

Review in a Half-Shell: This isn’t a cartoon adaptation, but the story could’ve just as easily been an episode of the animated series. The plot’s very simple, the villains aren’t much of a threat, and the Turtles make a new friend at the end. Mitchroney’s expressive art livens up the predictable story, and the Turtles’ brotherly interactions are handled well.

What the Shell? : No one recognizes the Turtles at the aquarium, even though they’re only disguised with hats and street clothes (normally, they’re hidden in trenchcoats, which isn’t a great disguise either, but doesn’t stretch disbelief quite so far). Bebop and Rocksteady are back on Earth with Shredder without explanation. Shredder wants to destroy the Statue of Liberty on the 4th of July, apparently just because he’s evil.

Pizza References: Two. The Turtles head for a pizzeria after leaving the aquarium, and Michelangelo later declares that he wants a pizza “like now!” while watching the fireworks display.

Absolutely Approved By The Comics Code Authority: Man Ray saves Shredder’s life after he destroys his oxygen tank underwater.

Turtlemania: There are ads for TMNT cereal (basically Chex with marshmallows, and remarkably similar to the ‘90s Spider-Man cereal that had “webs” instead of “ninja nets”), the upcoming 1990 movie, and the first NES Turtles game.

Meanwhile in Riverdale…: A PSA shows Archie and the gang studying Algebra, partying, and winning a track meet, all without the help of drugs. We’re also invited to “order tons” of a 1990 Archie calendar.


Matt said...

I like your category titles ("Review in a Half Shell," etc.)!

I also only recently learned that the creative teams on this title were put together by Mirage. And I just learned (and I mean just -- like last week, when I was looking up info on this series after you reminded me of it) that "Dean Clarrain" was a pseudonym for a guy named Steve Murphy, who is apparently still involved with the TMNT to this day (he has a blog called "The 5th Turtle," but it looks like it hasn't been updated in some time).

I agree this issue seemed very toon-inspired. But I believe that fairly soon, there's a departure from that mold...

G. Kendall said...

I remember Rich Johnston mentioned in a column that one of the creators on this book worked under a pseudonym, but I didn't remember which one.
I just learned that Ken Mitchroney has worked on some Pixar movies and has even worked as a voiceover artist. He has a blog, too, but it doesn't look like he talks about his run on this book.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, another creator's blog outted Dean Clarrain as an alias for Steve Murphy. Apparently he continued to write for the 2003 Turtles cartoon, which I've never watched but I heard was actually of decent quality.

I envy you for having (or at least having access to) the entire original series. I'm missing most of the books past #30 or so. I picked up the Future Tense trade for some of the reprints, but they did a sloppy job on it.

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