In New Comic Book Day this week we're going to do that past and present (ish) look at a title, again. I've always been a fan of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, since I was a kid, and I still am. And like many of the fans, my favourite was always Raphael, hands down. Even though his gruff and almost anti-social behaviour of the early comics was a stark contrast to his wise-ass and joke making nature of the early cartoons, they still both resonated with the personality of a troubled soul, one who feels left out but tried to fit in, one who has issues that even his closest friends and family don't really understand. And we, who like the character, often relate with those aspects. So this week we're taking a look at how he has changed over the years, from his old 80's one-shot comic, to the later miniseries of 2011 which focused mainly on him as well.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Classics: Raphael Micro-Series (2012, reprint of 80's material)
Writer: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird
Artist: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird
Issues: # 1-Shot
With Splinter gone, the turtles are struggling to cope with things on their own. Each of them handles the new pressure in different ways. While Leonardo starts to micro-manage everything, Raphael feels his emotions running away with him, and when he gets in a fight, his rage takes over. During a training exercise with Mikey, Raphael completely loses control and would have done his brother a serious injury if Leo hadn't stepped in and stopped the fight.
Afraid of losing control again, Raph takes to the rooftops to clear his head. He knows he's losing control, even to the point that he wants to kill, but he doesn't know why. Perplexed at the complexity of his own inner struggle, he is almost relieved when he hears the commotion of a crime in progress, and therefore something to take his mind off his problems. But there is another vigilante on his way to stop the mugging, and whereas Raphael tries to control his rage, this vigilante embraces it.
This is the first time Raphael meets the vigilante Casey Jones, and it's a "versus" mash-up the likes of which you don't see these days in comics. The two go at it, trading punches and kicks and blunt trauma for most of the comic. But it's not just mindless violence, because through this obstacle, almost a reflection of what he himself is becoming, Raphael recognises the need for the control his master had taught him, and in harnessing that restraint he is able to control his emotion and beat Casey.
This is the way the turtles were meant to be seen and read, with Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman at the wheel. The art is spot on, the action intense, and although the dialogue sounds like an olden day episode of the A-Team, it's a really fun comic. A case in point to the success of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series: Raphael (2011)
Writer: Brian Lynch
Artist: Franco Urru
Issues: #1 (of
After the initial Eastman/ Laird Raphael Micro-Series which came out during the first volume in the 80's, the franchise revisited the Micro-Series concept in 2011. By then the franchise had moved away from the creators of the title still writing and illustrating it, and had been through various creative teams and publishers. IDW picked up the title, and to coincide with their take on the Micro-Series concept for each character, they also released the classic Micro-Series, in colour.
The 2011 version sees the turtles at a different place in time. Splinter is still with them, but Raphael had been separated from them for some time and has only recently returned. Having been apart from his brothers for a while, he is fiercely independent, and sees their caring and protective nature as confining doting. He also still has a bit of an aggressive streak, but compared to the 80's version is much more in control of his temper and his emotions. He still faces an inner struggle, although it is not as consuming as the earlier comic, and that is to figure out where he fits into the group, a true sense of belonging and being one of them.
And so we see as the first issue takes off, Raphael has turned down the option to go on patrol with his brothers, to rather go with Casey Jones on his patrol instead. Casey is also very different from the earlier version, considerably less aggressive (even less so than Raphael), and quite in touch with his emotional side. Raphael even comments "What's up with Casey tonight? He wants to talk, I just want to..." (hit something). So the characters have developed, changed a bit from what were probably a little more two-dimensional characters in the 80's comics, but still keeping plenty of their original aspects. They're easily identifiable as the same characters, even with the changes.
While the comic is also fast paced and with plenty of action, and the artwork is crisp and stylized, to me it doesn't capture the turtles the way their creators did, and the action sequences feel more static than the rougher art style of the old comics. But that being said, Brian Lynch writes a compelling story, and the dialogue is much more believable, and not at all as cheesy as the old script.
We also meet a few new characters in this issue, amongst them the punks who have yet to be transformed into Bebop and Rocksteady.
Boardgame and graphic novel enthusiast. Marvel or DC? Image. Old-school gamer. Avid role-player. Kermit for president. I believe that werewolves will rule the world one day.
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