Credits: Dean Clarrain (script), Chris Allan (pencils), Brian Thomas (inks), Gary Fields (letters), Barry Grossman (colors)
As the sandstorm dies down, Shredder approaches Splinter’s unconscious body. The Turtles, along with Ninjara and Al’Faqua, arrive to rescue him, but they soon discover Shredder has a new ally. The mystery man fires energy blasts that form a forcefield around the heroes. Declaring the wonders of science, he removes his mask to reveal his true face. His name is Verminator-X, and he’s a humanoid cat cyborg from the future. He also enjoys cigars.
Welcome to 1992, Turtles. Shredder and Verminator-X escape with Splinter, leaving the others behind in the forcefield. Raphael’s sai manages to puncture the energy bubble and free his friends. Al’Faqua sends his pet falcon Talyn to find the villains, as they take Splinter to a nearby oasis. Splinter learns that Shredder has stolen the Black Stone of Mecca, and is planning to take the White Stone. Owning both stones, he believes, will grant him immortality. Following Talyn’s guidance, the Turtles travel through an underground tunnel called a foggara to reach the oasis.
After reaching the oasis, the Turtles learn that Shredder’s fellow travelers are actually Foot Supersoldiers.
Shredder, presumably through the help of his very ‘90s friend, is opening a time portal. He plans to bring Splinter along, just to keep him around for future tortures, but the Turtles remind Shredder that he owes them a debt of honor (following Krang’s wacky misadventure that took place on top of Shredder’s head). Declaring everyone even, he throws Splinter back. Al’Faqua is upset that Shredder and Verminator-X escaped with the Black Stone, but Ninjara reveals that she used her thief abilities to steal the real stone and replace it with a fake. Al’Faqua gets down on his knees, holding the Black Stone and praising Allah (which I’m sure won’t at all offend the concerned mother who wrote in this issue, complaining about the “New Age and Buddhist rhetoric and subject matter” of #33).
Review in a Half-Shell: Wow, Al’Faqua and Verminator-X in the same issue. Verminator-X is either a clever parody, years ahead of its time, of some of the more ridiculous early ‘90s comics trends…or an awkward attempt to cash in on those trends. Either way, this book is obviously something that could’ve only been published between 1991 and 1994. Since TMNT started out as a parody of Marvel’s early ‘80s output, I guess it’s appropriate that cyborg mutants from the future eventually got their due, also. I’ve always liked the Foot Supersoldiers, and Clarrain/Murphy is still able to use the unique setting to the story’s advantage, so even if we’re supposed to take Verminator-X seriously, there’s some solid work here.
I Was Not Aware of That: The story details how an oasis is created, describing a foggara as a “self-filling subterranean aqueduct” that uses gravity to slowly bring water to an oasis.