Monday, June 22, 2015

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES (vol. 3) #21 - May 1999


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

Pizza-Free Summary:  Donatello defeats all but one of the Triceratons at the museum.  The lone Triceraton teleports away with Horridus, leaving Donatello to fly home alone.  He calls April, asking her to check on Splinter.  She discovers Splinter tied up in his room.  Meanwhile, Raphael and the Foot Clan join the fight against the Triceratons in the sewer.  Michelangelo tries to shut down the transmat device but only manages to electrocute himself.  After the aliens are defeated, Horridus and the last Triceraton emerge inside the transmat device.  Leatherhead jumps on the Triceraton and is teleported away with him to an unknown location.  Raphael returns to the Foot’s hideout and is ambushed by members of the Japanese Foot Clan.  They declare that he passed the test and is worthy to join the Foot; however, another is claiming leadership of the New York faction.  Pimiko emerges, with her father’s elite guards.

Continuity Notes:  The Japanese representatives tell Raphael that Karai has been removed as leader of the Japanese Foot Clan because she “made a great mistake and lost much face.”

What the Shell?:  The cover doesn’t represent any of the actual events in this issue; it also ruins the last page reveal of Pimiko.

Review in a Half-Shell:  Somehow, this comic always manages to be plot heavy, even in an all-action issue.  Carlson finds a way to tie the ongoing Foot Clan subplot into the big Triceraton fight, and set up Pimiko’s inevitable confrontation with Raphael before the issue’s end.  I still consider the Raphael/Foot storyline to be an albatross around the book’s neck, even though this issue does use the Foot rather effectively during the big battle scene.  Apparently, their victory over the Triceratons is supposed to be the dramatic moment that proves Raph was right all along about replacing Shredder, which is a crock, because the comic has still done nothing to justify Raphael’s motivation to lead a criminal organization.  If he’s doing this to help the Foot reform, that’s defensible, but the idea that they’re still acting as criminals out of financial necessity is absurd.

On a very basic level, it’s fun to see various characters from the TMNT canon all united against the Triceratons.  Carlson makes it a point to give everyone at least a small character moment, while never letting the action relent.  Thanks to his still-annoying cybernetic upgrade, Donatello is able to blast his way through the Triceratons far too easily, but for the rest of the cast, the aliens are presented as credible threats.  The abundance of characters does work to the issue’s disadvantage in a few places, however.  The earlier issues suffered from a few “What is this?” pages, a problem that’s rarely reappeared until now.  With dozens of figures on each page (the Turtles, Casey Jones, Leatherhead, the Foot Clan, Horridus, and the Triceratons), there’s a tendency for the fight scenes to become too crowded.  As much as Larsen might have hated gray tone, some of the issues seemed to be begging for it.

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