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.