Wednesday, September 16, 2009

TMNT Adventures #14 – September 1990

Leave Heaven Alone

Credits: Dean Clarrain (script), Donald Simpson (pencils), Dan Berger (inks), Barry Grossman (colors), Gary Fields (letters)

And now, a very special issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures. Cudley returns the Turtles to Earth, but instead of taking them home, he drops them off in Brazil. They quickly run into Jagwar, a humanoid jaguar who is a target of armed mercenaries. They retreat to Jagwar’s temple, where he explains that the rainforest is under assault from greedy developers. They killed Jagwar ‘s friend, a local labor leader who spoke out against the development. They’ve also kidnapped an American TV reporter was sent to investigate the murder.

The Turtles nourish themselves with the fruit of the jangala tree as Jagwar gives a monologue about the beauty of the rainforest.

The Turtles track down the developers with Jagwar, and learn that the kidnapped reporter is April O’Neil. Raphael is assigned to knock out the guard, which leads to my favorite scene in the issue:

Soon, Jagwar and the Turtles defeat the developers and rescue April. Jagwar mourns the loss of his friend, and the continued destruction of the rainforest.

Notice that Michelangelo and Donatello are actually crying, too. Raphael and Leonardo are just standing there awkwardly. In the epilogue, we learn that the man behind the developers is (of course) a greedy, skyscraper-dwelling, cigar-smoking businessman. His name is Null, and he’ll play a large role in upcoming issues.

Review in a Half-Shell: Do people still do rainforest stories these days? Does Sting still perform benefit concerts? I’m not sure if the situation ever changed (there are quite a few websites dedicated to the cause, and apparently some people skeptical about the "50 acres is lost each minute" claim repeated in this issue...looking online, I see people claiming anything between 30 acres and 150 today), but it seems like it’s an issue that you never hear anything about anymore. The story is obviously preachy (there’s actual crying!), but there is at least a brief acknowledgment that the situation isn’t as simple as “evil developers maliciously enjoy killing trees for fun.” Jagwar acknowledges that while some locals want the land left alone, others support limited development as it creates jobs and alleviates poverty. It’s the villains who don’t care about the locals at all. I think Jagwar is later given an origin, but in this issue he just appears as a talking jaguar. The fact that he has an ancient temple is the only clue about his origins, which bothered me as a kid. I was only able to get over my initial skepticism of the Turtles when I learned that there was a proper explanation for their human traits. I could accept talking animals, but only if there was some level of internal logic. I also had no idea what to make of Don Simpson’s art, which certainly has a…unique take on the Turtles.

Pizza References: Raphael wonders what the jangala fruit would taste like on a thick pan pizza, along with a list of toppings that includes earthworms.

Meanwhile, in Riverdale… : There’s a full page ad for the Archie 3000 series. It’s truly a thing of beauty. I like Archie’s rat-tail.


Matt said...

I hated the artwork in this issue! Especially after that wonderful Mitchroney cover, it was a total let-down.

"And now, a very special issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures."

There were a lot of these. Way too many, for my tastes. They tended to be (in my opinion) the low spots of what was generally a very enjoyable series.

Speaking of Null, do you have (and are you going to review) the Mighty Mutanimals mini-series? I think that's where his story wraps up. I never had it, so I've never been sure exactly what happened to him...

wwk5d said...

You know, I can see why people may not have liked the art back then, but looking at it now...I like it. To be honest, I never got into it as the Mitchroney art turned me off, and still kind of does...but I like Simpson's take, I may have to actually track this issue down.

Maybe the turtles are crying because Jagwar's speech is just so bad?

G. Kendall said...

Yes, I'm reviewing the Mutanimal series, which is coming up soon in continuity.

Also, wwk5d, you might want to check out the "TMNT Meets Archie" special if you've never seen it. It has a Don Simpson back-up story and he really goes crazy in it.

MRPRSN said...

Simpson's Turtles may be fairly off-model, but it's great to see his underground comix meets Mad Magazine style make an appearance here. Makes me think of the regular TMNT comic where Eastman & Laird turned the book over to a parade of indie creators for an amazing series of non-continuity stories.

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