Thursday, January 8, 2015

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: The Comic Strip - May 23, 1991 to August 28, 1991

Credits: Dean Clarrain (writer), Jim Lawson & Dan Berger (art), Mary Kelleher (letters)

Summary:  When King Gorrrge asks the Turtles if they have any final requests, Donatello asks to wear his crown.  He complies, then leaves with the rest of the Grrrufs to find a new land.  Pumarro releases a call to his fellow Qats, who arrive and save the Turtles.  Donatello reveals that King Gorrrge’s crown contains seeds that could be used to grow more Gaea trees.  The Turtles depart Tresmundo on the skeleton’s boat, which has suddenly returned.  They arrive in another strange land, this one populated by dinosaurs.  The dinosaurs are under attack by armored men with laser rifles.  Michelangelo is injured by a laser blast and taken away by a Parasaurolophus.  While he recovers, the Turtles take one of the armored men captive.  He reveals that he’s a “conceptual product scout” for Space-Time-Wana, Inc.  According to him, they discovered an entrance to this world through a cave in Africa.  Raphael wants to find the cave and return to modern Earth, but Splinter is adamant that they can’t leave the dinosaurs to be exploited by man.

Continuity Notes:  
  • The Parasaurolophus communicates to Michelangelo in his dreams, telling him that this group of dinosaurs escaped extinction by hiding inside this “world within a world.”  
  • Space-Time-Wana, Inc. is described as a “multi-media, multi-national” corporation.  So, you know, of course they’re evil.

Pizza References:  While being burned at the stake, Michelangelo’s last request is for pizza.

We're Killing the Earth! :  The Parasaurolophus’s story about meteorites killing the dinosaurs reminds Michelangelo about the holes in the ozone layer.

Review in a Half-Shell:  Picking up from the last strip’s cliffhanger, the Turtles banter with King Gorrrge for a few days before Clarrain/Murphy gets around to their inevitable escape.  Having Pumarro call for help might seem anticlimactic, but I actually think these strips do a credible job of wrapping up this segment of the storyline.  It makes sense that Pumarro would wait until the Grrrufs have left before calling for reinforcements (since they appeared pretty outmatched during their last fight), and that bit about a last request is quite clever.  It leads to a few decent jokes, fleshes King Gorrrge out a tad, and provides an indirect resolution to the Qats’ problem.  I initially thought the request to receive the crown was about Donatello finding some way to become “king for a day” and cancel their own execution, but Clarrain/Murphy was actually smarter than that.  It’s a nice demonstration of Donatello’s intelligence, and his faith in his brothers that they’ll find a way to escape and help the Qats.  The resolution’s also less depressing than Murphy’s typical environmental messages, which are usually so bleak they defeat whatever point he’s trying to make.

Moving on to the dinosaur arc…well, it has dinosaurs in it.  I guess kids liked that.  I get the basic concept of having the Turtles face a prehistoric and futuristic threat simultaneously, but Jim Lawson’s art suits only the dinosaurs.  Those armored corporate warriors just look like kids cosplaying as something out of bad ‘70s sci-fi.  I can’t even tell if the “conceptual product scouts” are wearing pants or not; it looks as if they have Marge Simpson’s dress on, complimented by an old Battlestar Galactica Cylon helmet.  (I assume Lawson draws them so short in order to have them fit into the same panel with the four-foot tall Turtles, but it does no favors for the already shaky design.)  The story so far consists of Clarrain/Murphy’s typical anti-corporation, pro-environment soapboxing and at this point there isn’t a lot to redeem it.  I will say that the potential conflict between Raphael and Splinter is intriguing, since both characters have reasons within the story for their respective stance.  Splinter understandably wants to save the dinosaurs, but ultimately, I can’t blame Raphael for pursuing what could be their only way home.

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