…the rest of the TMNT Adventures team and Mirage at large,
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Future Tense – Allan, Clarrain, Kazaleh, et al.
This trade collects eight issues of the early 90’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures title published by Archie Comics, along with one issue of a spinoff title from the same time. These nine issues provide the setup for a soon-to-come continuation of a plotline dropped along with the TMNTA title in 1995. Part of the 25th anniversary celebration, this collection follows the Turtles on an adventure to a dark future where their sensei is dead, the polar ice caps have melted and flooded the streets of New York, their future selves are in peril, and a team of three villains plot to wreak havoc with future-Donatello’s time machine.
Oh man, guys, where to I start? I grew up on TMNTA, and grew with it–I was six when the first issue came out, and enjoyed the silly old cartoon-based plotlines. Then slowly the stories veered away from the cartoon, started getting darker, more emotionally complex, more expansive in scope. I was going on thirteen by the time Mikey got almost blown up by a Molotov cocktail in a Jerusalem riot, Donnie struggled with the immorality of keeping aliens locked in cells at a secret base in Area 51, and Raph-of-the-future went back in time to punch Hitler in the face. Well, okay, he didn’t go back in time just to do that. But that moment remains one of my favorite panels in a comic book ever:
Then all of a sudden the issues stopped coming out on a reliable monthly schedule. I waited and hoped and prayed as they petered out, seeing ads in each issue for “The Forever War,” a story arc that promised to be epic in proportions. The title was canceled before that arc could ever see print, and I’ve been waiting fifteen years to read it. Given all that, I’m sure you can imagine my indescribable glee when I heard that “The Forever War” was finally going to be produced, and my absolute delight at this awesome trade that precedes it.
Though I’ve read the single issues that make up TMNT: Future Tense many, many times, it was wonderful to read them again, and try to guess at what might be coming based on what you guys thought was critical to include. The stories are crazy fantastic, full of Dean Clarrain’s awesome witty dialogue, occasional Gundam-esque battle armor, and of course my favorite art out of all the TMNT artists and universes. Chris Allan, you are totally my hero. I love how even in black and white I can always tell which Turtle is which, even when there are eight of them on the page. The little wrinkles and liver-spotty-things you use to distinguish the Turtles-of-the-future make me so disproportionately happy! And the inks! Oh, Brian Thomas and Jon D’Agostino, you both rock my world with your awesome inkage. I’m also quite fond of this vision of the Turtles’ future, as people; Mike as an artist, Don making dough off his crazy inventions, Leo running a dojo, and Raph running a bar. Seriously, it doesn’t get better than that.
I also loved the extra stuff that got added in between issues in the collection–the rejected cover art and other such things were few, but AWESOME. It’s fun to be an adult now and learn what was going on behind the scenes of these comics that felt so totally real and magical to me when I was younger. There is one little problem, though–one page gets repeated. Maybe it’s just in my book, in which case, cool, that makes it a little unique. But it would be sad if it were in all the books–people who have never read these stories before will miss out on Raph-of-the-future telling Raph-of-the-present not to screw things up with his girlfriend. Hilarious! Young Raph is such a jerk, you just know he could benefit from some professional therapy to work out his issues.
Anyway, I think this is one of the longer and more rambling letters I’ve written in this blog so far, and also perhaps the least review-like and the most like a love-fest. Let me sum it up by saying that I think you chose which issues to include very cleverly, and that all your work from back in 1994-5 remains spectacular, and that I love you all with startling intensity. I’m dancing in my chair in anticipation of “The Forever War” arc–what will happen? Will Raph get over himself enough for Ninjara to take him back? Will Shredder finally be defeated? Will Butter Dog have a return engagement at the Turtle Island bar?? (I take only partial responsibility for the Butter Dog album cover–I added the text to an already-existing ridiculous photo of some of the TMNT guys back when they had wicked bad hair.)
You are all awesome! Future Tense gets five happy glowy radical stars!