Stump Comics Presents...The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Credits: Dean Clarrain & Ryan Brown (plot), Dean Clarrain (writer), Jim Lawson (penciler), Gary Fields (inker & letterer), Barry Grossman (colorist)
And now things get freaky. The “What's that?!” from the previous issue turns out to be Cudley, the “transdimensional cowlick”.
Cudley’s a flying cow’s head that travels through dimensions, carrying passengers in his mouth. He takes the Turtles to the Stump Asteroid, where they meet Stump and his financial partner, Sling.
Stump’s a talking oak tree, of course (and probably a Donald Trump parody), and Sling is some type of humanoid money tree. He grows money as hair/leaves, and the dollar amount apparently depends on his level of excitement.
An intergalactic wrestling tournament is filmed on the asteroid, and Stump wants the Turtles to participate. With no real options, they go along. They’re pitted against Cryin’ Houn’, a four-armed dog-man who can apparently only speak his own name (I get that his name is an Elvis reference, but I don’t know if there’s another joke I’m missing). They also learn that Leatherhead is there, after Cudley saved him from his fall in the previous issue. He’s wrestling Ace Duck, a burly, self-absorbed duck in a speedo (and one of the early action figures).
Each fight is given half of the page to play out, with the Turtles’ battle at the bottom of the page and the Leatherhead fight on top. It’s a fun gimmick that allows kids to read the story in different ways, until the two plot threads merge.
Cudley suddenly develops indigestion and spits up the Turtles’ ninja weapons.
The Turtles threaten Stump and Sling, who agree to order Cudley to take them back home. Leatherhead enjoys the adulation of intergalactic wrestling and opts to stay behind. Cudley takes the Turtles to Earth, but accidentally arrives one hundred years in the future, where the polar icecaps have melted and flooded New York City. (Remember, kids: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, or else the Earth is going to die.) He realizes his mistake and soon takes the Turtles back home, leaving them in the middle of a thunderstorm.
Review in a Half-Shell: It’s a variation on the genre classic of “heroes forced to fight in gladiator games,” which is livened up by the sheer insanity of the new characters. It’s certainly entertaining, but Jim Lawson’s art is quite a step down from Ken Mitchroney’s. As a kid, I hated his sparse, simplified style. I can appreciate it more today, and recognize that he does a good job on the wrestling scenes, but some of the art almost looks amateurish.
What the Shell? Uh, see everything above. This book has suddenly turned into an LSD trip in-between issues.
I Was Not Aware of That: The wrestling outfits the Turtles wear are the original outfits designed for the characters by Eastman/Laird. The creators of the Archie series thought that the designs were a part of Turtle history and shouldn’t stay hidden in a drawer. (You can read more at Steve Lavigne and Ryan Brown's blog). Also, the indicia reveals that the writers and artists of this series own the rights to characters like Cryin’ Houn’ and Cudley (Stephen Murphy is credited with his pseudonym “Dean Clarrain” but the copyright notice is in his real name), while Mirage Studios owns the preexisting characters.
Pizza References: None.
Turtlemania: There’s an ad for TMNT t-shirts, featuring art that looks like it’s from the original series. An American Entertainment ad also lists Turtle calendars, videos, watches, lunch boxes, and buttons for sale (one VHS with two episodes of the cartoon costs $18.95!).
I Love the (Late) ‘80s: There’s an advertisement for the Nintendo Power Glove on the inside back cover.