When I bought first Color Classics (2018) volume of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics, I went in a little bit blind. I knew that Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s original versions of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (TMNT) were far darker and more violent characters and I knew that they killed the Shredder in their first issue and went on to both befriend April O’Neil and battle Baxter Stockman and his robotic Mousers, but I never expected that the TMNT would be beamed into the far reaches of space within the first seven issues!
Since issue three, the TMNT have been searching for their missing mentor and father-figure, Splinter. Their search took them to the mysterious T.C.R.I. building and saw them teleported to the alien city of Peblak, where they befriended the “Fugitoid”, Professor Honeycutt (a humanoid scientist’s consciousness trapped within a robotic body) and were hounded by the forces of General Blanque. After Honeycutt, the only one capable of constructing a Transmat Device and returning them home, was kidnapped by the dinosaur-like Triceratons, the TMNT gave chase and ended up choking to death in the cargo hold as the Triceraton ship docked with their technologically-enhanced asteroid base.
Issue six picks up right where issue five left off, with Honeycutt being brought to the command deck to witness the awesome sight of the Triceraton homeworlds, a whole series of asteroids all hollowed out and filled with space-faring technology and domed cities.
While Honeycutt is taken to meet with the Triceraton’s leader, Prime Leader Zanramon, the Triceratons stumble upon the TMNT in the cargo hold. They’re sat in deep mediation, presumably to lower their heartbeats and control their breathing and make the most of the limited oxygen; however, it also leaves them helpless, allowing Zanramon to hold them captive in his attempt to force Honeycutt to construct a Transmat Device to aid their wars.
However, despite the threat to his new friends, Honeycutt remains resolute in his decision not to construct a Transmat Device for any reason as the threat to life is just too great, even if it means the TMNT will die.
The story then jumps back to Earth to check in on April, who is beside herself with worry as the TMNT and Splinter have been missing for some time now. A news report reveals that the national guard have been called in to investigate some strange goings-on at the T.C.R.I. building, which does very little alleviate her fears and worries.
Back at the Triceraton homeworlds, the TMNT are forced to enter the Triceraton arena in a fight to the death. Luckily, the TMNT have been provided with oxygen kits to allow them to breathe and they’ve been allowed to keep hold of their weapons and, even better, the wrist injury that had slowed “Michaelangelo” down over the last few issues is no longer a problem, meaning that the TMNT are able to battle at full force, inflicting bloody, fatal wounds to their Triceraton opponents.
Spotting Honeycutt in the Prime Leader’s executive box, the TMNT hatch a plan to hijack a floating platform and attack the Prime Leader and his guard. The battle is swift and the TMNT rescue Honeycutt and take Zanramon hostage, forcing him to guarantee them safe passage to his personal ship.
Once again arming themselves with laser rifles, the TMNT engage in a shoot-out right as they reach the docks and Zanramon is killed in the crossfire (by his own troops, no less). Pinned down, the TMNT beat a hasty retreat to a nearby elevator only to find it full of yet more Triceratons. However, right as they are about to be gunned down, the TMNT, Honeycutt, and a handful of the Triceratons are bathed in a familiar light and disappear from sight…
This is first TMNT issue I’ve looked at since beginning Turtle Tuesday that doesn’t really focus on the titular mutant turtles for the majority of its pages. Instead, we’re shown and told the specifics of the Triceraton society and spend the first half of the story with Honeycutt being threatened and April being reduced to a helpless wreck.
Things finally pick up once the arena battle begins, in which the TMNT return to their violent, bloody glory, slicing up the Triceratons, cracking their skulls, and skewing them in their life-or-death battle. It’s always great to see the TMNT cutting up their opponents with reckless abandon and this continues as soon as they get their hands on those laser rifles and start gunning down Triceratons without hesitation. None of them really get much of a chance to stand out in this frantic setting, however, and all we really garner from this issue is that the TMNT are increasingly desperate to get back to New York.
What do you think of the Triceratons as a TMNT enemy? Would you have preferred to see this issue spend more time with the TMNT or did you enjoy seeing Eastman and Laird expand the scope of their off-the-wall comic book series? Did you know that T.C.R.I. actually stood for “Techno-Cosmic Research Institute” and do you agree that this is a ridiculous name? What is your favourite arena-based fight in comics, videogames, or movies? Whatever your thoughts, drop them in the comics below and come back next Tuesday to see where the TMNT end up this time!