Monday, October 5, 2009

TMNT Adventures #20 – May 1991

Sun & Steel

Credits: Dean Clarrain (script), Bill Wray (pencils), Hilary Barta, John Beatty, & Mark Pacella (inks), Gary Fields (letters), Barry Grossman (colors)

Following the events of Mighty Mutanimals #1, Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello, April, and Splinter are left on the roof of Null’s skyscraper. Police helicopters arrive to investigate the commotion, forcing the Turtles and friends to escape to the sidewalks. They soon enter Chinatown, where the Turtles are forced to disguise themselves.

Golden Girl Donatello, Bust a Move Michelangelo, and Hassidic Jew Leonardo. These guys should have been action figures, not those ridiculous “Olympic Games Turtles.” Nearby, a fire is raging. Firefighter Chu Hsi runs into one of the burning buildings to rescue a baby, but is soon trapped under falling debris. He’s saved when the owner of a curio shop throws an antique dragon trinket into the building. When the dragon smashes, gas emerges, transforming Chu Hsi into the Warrior Dragon.

One building remains untouched by the fire. It’s an old hideout of Shredder’s (who apparently knows how to build robots, create mutants, and fireproof his property). Out of the building emerges a giant Foot Soldier, who quickly terrorizes the city.

The Turtles aren’t a match for the giant robot, until Warrior Dragon comes along. Dragon easily defeats the Foot Soldier, and eventually impales him on the Statue of Liberty.

Warrior Dragon transforms back into Chu Hsi, and the Turtles say goodbye. Predictably, one of them is now hungry for pizza.

Review in a Half-Shell: This is another issue intended to showcase a new character, in this case Warrior Dragon (renamed “Hothead” for the toy line). Despite what the flaccid cover might lead you to believe, this is actually a great looking issue, and it’s big and bold enough to sell the new character. Future Ren & Stimpy animator Bill Wray provides the art, and all three inkers are going with the approach of making the pages as dark as possible (I had no idea a pre-Liefeld Mark Pacella ever worked on this book). The Turtles do look unusually on-model with their initial toy designs (which had them pupil-less and grimacing) for the first few pages, but once they slip into their disguises, it seems like Wray has a lot more fun with them. The action is more intense than what you usually see in Adventures, and even if the issue is a tribute/parody to monster movies that have already been endlessly riffed on, it’s still fun.

What the Shell? : While the Turtles all don elaborate disguises, Splinter simply puts on a coat and walks around town with his giant ratface exposed.

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