Wednesday, September 2, 2015

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: The Comic Strip - December 30, 1991 to February 7, 1992

Heaven’s in Here (Part Two)
Credits: Dean Clarrain (writer), Jim Lawson & Dan Berger (art), Mary Kelleher (letters)

Summary:  The Turtles fight Brik and Brak, but are unprepared for the aliens viscous discharge.  Donatello escapes capture and races to get help.  He discovers Brik and Brak’s spaceship.  Once Donatello enters, he sets off the ship’s security alarm.  Meanwhile, Brik and Brak discuss with Ka'kfa their plan to destroy Wall Street and then consume the Earth’s tropical forests.  Ka'kfa summons his army of cockroaches from throughout the city.  They climb over Michelangelo’s captive body, tickling him.

Continuity Notes:  In the Adventures series, Scul and Bean release “stink bombs.”  In the strip, Brik and Brak release similar substances, but here, the bombs release a fluid that holds the Turtles captive.  If that also happened in the Adventures series, I’ve mercifully erased the memory.

Review in a Half-Shell:  The second storyline turns out to be a much shorter, much more straightforward adventure tale, losing all of the interesting elements from the first arc.  It’s the Turtles versus the gross aliens and the nasty cockroach monster, and while I’m sure most kids were anxious for a fight scene, this format doesnt lend itself to action, and it’s hard to find a reason to care about any of this.  Presumably, the sermons about man’s destruction of the environment were supposed to add some depth to the story, but it’s tired material for anyone who’s already read Clarrain/Murphy’s previous work.  (Or any other piece of kids’ entertainment from the early ‘90s, since environmentalism was the cause every franchise latched onto in order to justify its pro-social value.  Troma even tried to launch the Toxic Avenger as a kids’ property using environmentalism as the hook.)  There’s also this business about Wall Street that doesn’t seem to serve any real point.  Clearly, the aliens don’t need to attack Wall Street in order to go forward with their plan of eating up the rainforests, so either we’re supposed to laugh at their naïve plan or just accept it as a part of the writer’s political statement.  Either way, I doubt it was a plot thread that had any appeal to kids.  Younger readers probably were entertained by the gross-out elements of the strips, though.  Brik and Brak have absolutely disgusting powers; powers so foul, it’s kind of amazing they made it to print in an era when people were scandalized by fart jokes in Disney movies.  The Archie series made sure not to color the “stink bombs” any color that resembled human feces, but in the black and white strip, the reader is free to imagine just what color the discharge is supposed to be.  And, really, what other color are you going to think of?  Also, the Turtles are covered in this stuff for many of these strips.  Did Pogo ever use roach armies and alien feces to make a point about the environment?

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