Thursday, November 5, 2009

TMNT Adventures #34 – July 1992

The Search for the Charlie Llama

Credits: Dean Clarrain (script), Chris Allan (pencils), Brian Thomas (inks), Gary Fields (letters), Barry Grossman (colors)

Outside of the Crystal Palace, the Turtles and their friends look for Charlie Llama. They come across Jang La, a pregnant woman who reveals that Charlie is not only the latest incarnation of Buddha, but also a midwife. She says that she saw last issue’s Skeleton-Dervish fly off to another palace. Katmandu recognizes the palace as the home of the sorcerer Mang-Thrasha. While the others leave to investigate Mang-Thrasha’s palace, Donatello and Splinter stay behind to assist in the delivery of Jang La’s baby. A group of Tantric Monkeys (described as “monk monkeys,” Charlie Llama’s personal choir) arrives to help the delivery.

As the others head for Mang-Thrasha’s palace, they’re attacked by more Whirling Dervish ninjas and the Skeleton-Dervish. Katmandu defeats the Skeleton-Dervish by literally ripping his bones apart. As it mutters its final word, Michelangelo stomps on the remains of its jaw. And Chris Allan’s art makes it just adorable.

The Turtles and friends arrive at the palace and finally meet Charlie Llama, who is literally a humanoid llama. Mang Thrasha reveals that he kidnapped Charlie Lllama to please the Chinese. Once the Chinese have Charlie recant his claims of being Buddha, they feel that his threat to their rule of Tibet will end. The Turtles fight against a group of Chinese soldiers, while Charlie Llama peacefully wills himself into death in a backroom. His last words: “Always remem-bahh that there are no endings…only new bahh-ginnings…” Meanwhile, Jang La gives birth to her baby, which has got to be the first depiction of afterbirth goo in an Archie comic.

That evening, everyone unites. Splinter isn’t upset about Charlie’s death, because he knows that Buddha is now reincarnated as Jang La’s baby. In case anyone’s unsure, the baby’s first words are “Bahh bahh bahh baah.”

Review in a Half-Shell: Man, if people were offended by the Turtles meditating, imagine what they thought of this storyline. It’s interesting that this issue presents reincarnation and Buddha as actual plot points when the letters page has a letter commenting that Izanagi and Izanami (who appeared as characters a few issues earlier) are actually from a different belief system. On top of that, Islam gets referenced in the next storyline. This is really the strangest this book has gotten so far, even though Chris Allan’s art is still creating the illusion that this is a kid’s comic based on a TV show. Not that Allan is a bad artist, his stuff is just so clean and amiable it seems at odds with the darker stories. That said, the action works pretty well, and the story’s so outrageous it’s fun just to see where it’s headed. Clarrain/Murphy also gets points for actually listing Tibet and China by name, instead of coming up with fictional countries to serve as obvious allegories. My only real complaint is the fact that Splinter knew a humanoid animal (who’s never given an origin) years before he become one himself. I realize it’s ridiculous to complain about coincidences in a story like this, but it just bothers me.

I Love the (Early) ‘90s: Michelangelo lets out a “Not!” on page ten, and he later refers to the Skeleton-Dervish as “Bone Loc” (as in, this guy).


Anonymous said...

"Not that Allan is a bad artist, his stuff is just so clean and amiable it seems at odds with the darker stories. "
I dunno, I don't see anything especially dark about these strips.

G. Kendall said...

Maybe "dark" isn't the proper term, but things like Buddha reincarnating, a woman giving birth, China's oppression of Tibet, and Charlie Llama willing himself into death are things you would never see in the cartoon. The story and the art just don't seem to mesh in this issue IMO.

guille said...

in the mighty mutanimals #2 you also get to see the snake that tempted eve to sin... oh, and it's called snake-eyes and wears sun glasses. it's a really hip snake, you know.

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