Friday, September 4, 2009

TMNT Adventures #9 – March 1990

Codename: Chameleon

Credits: Steve Lavigne & Dean Clarrain (plot), Dean Clarrain (writer), Jim Lawson (penciler), Gary Fields (inker & letterer), Barry Grossman (colorist)

Hey, why not introduce another mutant? The rather obscure Chameleon debuts, and if anyone ever bothered to give him an action figure or feature him in the cartoon, I certainly didn’t notice. I do like his look on the cover, though, which was penciled by TMNT co-creator Peter Laird. Chameleon starts off as a human double agent who’s stolen plans for a new weapons system. Shredder sees a news report that places Chameleon near Times Square and sends Bebop and Rocksteady to kidnap him. Meanwhile, Splinter sends the Turtles to patrol the sewers (whatever that means) and go shopping.

As fate (and the demands of a one-part story) would have it, Chameleon, the Turtles, and Bebop and Rocksteady all collide in the sewers underneath Times Square. Bebop and Rocksteady have brought along the latest thing Playmates wants you to buy, the Knucklehead.

I liked the Knucklehead toy as a kid, and I think Jim Lawson does a pretty impressive rendition of it here (in the whopping three pages it appears in). Lawson’s art had an odd impact on me as a child, as I initially hated it, but found that some of the panels (like the one posted above) stuck with me for days after I read the comics.

While the Turtles fight the Knucklehead, Bebop and Rocksteady take Chameleon back to Shredder. Shredder threatens to mutate him into an actual Chameleon unless he tells him where he left the weapons plans. Chameleon concedes, but Shredder mutates him anyway, thinking that Chameleon would join him if he was a freak with nowhere else to go (as opposed to just hating him forever, I guess).

The mutated Chameleon uses his color-change powers to escape Shredder, and returns to where he hid the plans in the sewers. Bebop and Rocksteady have also returned for the plans, leading to another confrontation with the Turtles. Chameleon tricks Bebop and Rocksteady into blasting the ceiling, escaping with the plans and leaving Bebop and Rocksteady buried under tons of debris. He returns the plans to the UN, making it a happy ending for everyone who wasn’t working for Shredder.

Review in a Half-Shell: It’s a little too formulaic, and kind of a letdown after the wacky fun of the previous issues. Jim Lawson’s art is starting to grow on me, though. Ken Mitchroney’s art looks like individual cells from a big-budget animated feature, while Lawson’s sparse art resembles something that might’ve been on Liquid Television. The two artists couldn’t be more different, and it’s obvious which one kids would prefer, but Lawson’s quirkiness has its charm.

Absolutely Approved By The Comics Code Authority: Leonardo makes sure the Foot Soldier riding the Knucklehead is a robot before slicing it in half. Bebop and Rocksteady carry ray guns instead of actual guns during the fight. However, they do have a vague death scene, which goes a little further than the cartoon probably would (of course they turn out to be okay later). The Turtles, at least, feel bad about their apparent deaths.

Pizza References: None, although Michelangelo is excited to go pick up groceries.

I Love the (Early) ‘90s: The weapons system is described as more powerful than the ICBMs “currently employed by either the Soviet Union or the United States.”

Meanwhile, in Riverdale…: Jughead has a new series, Jughead’s Diner (“What happens when Riverdale’s madcap teenager manages a diner that’s literally out of this world?”). Also, the Archie gang is still adamant that you say no to drugs.


Anonymous said...

I remember being less than enthusiastic about the art as a kid, but who knows, maybe it'd appeal to me more now.

I recall Chameleon turned up a lot later in the series, but I don't know if that was his only other appearance. He shape-shifted into different objects then, and I think he looked bigger too.

Aqualad said...

Jughead's Diner is cool, but Jughead's Time Police is awwwwe-sommme.

Matt said...

Yeah, I remember Chameleon returning in the comics way later, but I'm fairly positive he was never in the cartoon, and I'm certain he never had a toy.

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