Thursday, March 19, 2015

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (vol. 3) #15 - May 1998


Credits: Gary Carlson (writer), Frank Fosco (penciler), Mark Heike (inks), Pat Brosseau (letters)

Pizza-Free Summary:  Donatello’s body is placed inside an alien healing tank and taken to Michelangelo’s apartment.  Leonardo attempts to contact Donatello on the Astral Plane, but inadvertently reaches Raphael.  The Foot have placed Raphael in a trance and begun a mystic ritual to heal the wounds inflicted by Splinter.  Leonardo accidentally enters Raphael’s body for a few seconds and sees a caged Splinter with Shredder’s empty armor nearby.  Later, Donatello’s consciousness escapes the Astral Plane and enters Leonardo’s body.  Don sees his body inside the healing tank and irrationally breaks the tank open.  Leonardo’s mind returns to his proper body, while Donatello returns to his cyborg form.  He claims that the exoskeleton’s computer mind is gone and that he has full control of his cybernetics.  Leonardo declares that it’s time to confront the Foot and rescue Splinter and Raphael.

Continuity Notes:  
  • Since the previous issue, the Foot Clan has rescued Raphael and placed Splinter inside a cage.
  • April O’Neil tells Michelangelo that he’s sold two more poems and a short story while the Turtles were away.  Mikey also receives a letter from Horridus in the mail.

Total N00B:  I don’t quite understand Michelangelo’s living situation.  It would appear that his “apartment” is actually the home Casey and April share, but I’m not entirely certain.  In some panels, this alleged apartment looks like the sewers and in others, it resembles a typical home.  Also, I have no idea if Mike’s cat Klunk is an established character from the Mirage days, but he returns this issue.

Review in a Half-Shell:  The goal of this issue, obviously, is to get the Turtles in position for their inevitable confrontation with the Foot Clan and its new leader Raphael.  How exactly Carlson chooses to get there is, well, odd.  Having the Turtles swap bodies sounds like a wacky plot from the days of the original cartoon, but here it isn’t played for laughs.  It isn’t used for a lot of drama, either; it’s a plot device that allows the characters to learn where the missing cast members are, but doesn’t provide them enough information to avoid the approaching fight scene.  Carlson probably could’ve gotten to this point a dozen different ways, and I’m not sure how I feel about him using the Astral Plane as his path.  On the one hand, Carlson’s use of the Astral Plane goes back to the earliest issues of this series, so it’s not as if the concept is coming out of nowhere.  If you’re going to establish that Leonardo is now able to meditate and reach a different level of consciousness, then it’s reasonable to do a story based on him making mistakes and causing problems inside this strange realm.  On the other hand, it feels like an unusually complicated way to give the characters information they could’ve gathered simply by spying on the Foot.  

More frustrating than the specific plot mechanics is the continuing saga of CyberDonnie.  I have no idea why Don’s so irrationally angry when he possesses Leonardo’s body, nor do I understand why he’s magically healed as soon as his body is (forcibly) removed from the healing tank.  Aren’t his brothers monitoring his condition?  Shouldn’t they know when he needs to be removed?  Just a few pages earlier, he was in a coma!  I also can’t grasp how exactly Donatello still has a cybernetic exoskeleton.  It abandoned him and merged with Vanguard’s morphling Lurch last issue, yet it’s still bonded to Donatello (granting him the convenient power to create whatever weapons he wants at a given time.)  Carlson is apparently treating this as a story point, since the Turtles acknowledge this and also remind us that Donnie shouldn’t be walking without his shell, so I’m not ready to complain too loudly about this one.  However, add this to the other confusing moments, such as where the opening is even supposed to be taking place, and it creates an issue that’s too cryptic for its own good.

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