TMNT Meets Archie
May 10, 2010
Heroes in a half-shell, love triangles, and a bunch of readers scratching their heads.
(Cut to footage of the original Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles show)
Linkara (v/o): Confession time first: while I freely admit to having watched Ninja Turtles as a kid, loving it, and the movies, watching the 2003 series for a few years, and etc., I will say I'm not a big TMNT fan. Don't get me wrong: I still enjoy it, and I'd still take it over a lot of the other crap out there. I just haven't gotten as obsessively into it like I was for Power Rangers or Star Trek. Turtles Forever was friggin' awesome, by the way.
(Cut to a closeup of the cover for the comic "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1", from which the cartoon series originated)
Linkara (v/o): I think most people are familiar with the roots of the franchise. Started out as a comic book, parodying the grim and gritty styles of stories that were growing in popularity in comics at the time.
(More footage of the cartoon follows)
Linkara (v/o): It eventually grew into the franchise, the most popular of which was the original cartoon and the movies. As such, let's instead use this introduction to talk about the other half of our inexplicable crossover...
(Cut to a montage of shots from said crossover...)
Linkara (v/o): "Archie" comics. "Archie" is one of the longest enduring comic characters in existence. Why? I have absolutely no clue why. But he first appeared in December of 1941; he's almost as old as Captain America, for crying out Loud! For those who don't know about the perpetually teenage redhead, Archie Andrews is the title character of his series, mostly about the trials and tribulations and love triangles that exist in his hometown of Riverdale. It's pretty safe stuff, and for the longest time the "Archie" comics company demanded that Archie only be drawn in a specific style, though an alternate title with slightly more modern art began a few years ago. I have no idea if that one is still running, nor do I particularly care. "Archie" is really the only comic book that's still in grocery stores, everything else getting fazed out with the invention of comic book stores and the increasing adult content in comics. Sales figures in the various Archie comics are still pretty decent, though it's mostly the digest stuff that gets the most sales. The company itself has published a ton of stuff and still continues to, from "Sabrina the Teenage Witch" to "Sonic" comics and, for a few years, "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles", which is probably how this little crossover came to be.
Linkara: So let's dig into (holds up comic of review for today) "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Meet Archie" and... Wow, I really just said that, didn't I?
(AT4W title plays, followed by title card featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles theme; cut to a closeup of the comic's cover)
Linkara (v/o): Just a disclaimer first: I've never actually read a single Archie comic, and it's been years since I've watched the old Ninja Turtles cartoon, and I've never read the "Archie-TMNT" series, so please forgive me if I don't understand some of the plot points or I don't instantly know the name of a character. So let's start with our cover: a wrap-around that features the Turtles dancing with the Archie characters to the music of Josie and the Pussycats. I'll just let this image sit with you guys for a minute. Go on, take a good, long look, though in all seriousness, it's an okay cover, even if its purpose doesn't really tell us much about the situation other than, well, the Ninja Turtles are meeting Archie, whose shirt opening is oddly shaped and goes down quiet a bit. (the comic opens to the first page) We open to Archie and Betty making out in the country. Betty suddenly spots something far away. And what is it she spots? A giant cow head spitting out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Linkara: (holding up brown paper bag) Man, what's in this stuff?
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, I know it has something to do with the Archie-Ninja Turtles series, but I'd really appreciate an editor's box telling us that or something, because frankly, giant talking cow heads spitting out the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? I need a bit of grounding here, people! Betty and Archie presume that they're aliens and drive off in fear. The cow head, named "Cuddly" apparently, explains to the turtles that their in a different dimension. Donatello tries to explain the science of it, but the others roll their eyes at this.
Leonardo: Geez, the next thing you know they'll be trying to figure out the Middle East.
Linkara: (scoffs) Yeah, I mean, who could make sense of centuries-old conflicts over religion, land and culture? I bet they don't even speak English or eat pizza! Seriously, what the hell's up with that line?
Linkara (v/o): Raphael says they should go exploring and that Cuddly should pick them up in twelve hours. Umm, why are they exploring the alternate universe when they didn't even know they were traveling to an alternate universe? And why can't the cow head just transport them now? The Turtles start walking to Riverdale, which we then cut to. Betty and Archie try to tell everyone about what they saw, but they don't believe them. Some kid comes in and exclaims that Josie and the Pussycats are "gonna go on stage in five minutes!" Everyone immediately runs out, even with little run sound effects. Umm, how come no one knew what time the concert was gonna be? Meanwhile, the Turtles swipe some clothes and walk down the sidewalk, and even they don't buy that these disguises will work. Donatello is a bit more optimistic, though.
Donatello: Like Master Splinter says: "Invisibility, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder."
Linkara: No, it isn't, you're either invisible or you're not.
Donatello: We just have to be one with our surroundings.
Linkara: By that logic, shouldn't you be dressed as a street lamp then?
Linkara (v/o): A local dog overhears them and thinks to itself that that'd only work if this was a town of brussel sprouts, and oh, yeah the dog thinks in English. Sorry, that's just not as impressive as the flying talking dimension hopping cow head. At the concert, and before anyone asks I won't be using clips from the live-action Josie and the Pussycats movie because, well, I haven't seen it. Betty and Archie are still debating with the others about seeing things. Reggie and Archie almost come to blows over it, but Veronica tells them to calm down.
Veronica: I'm leaving to powder my nose, when I get back, I expect to see everyone dancing – and I don't mean slam dancing, boys!
Linkara: (as Veronica) I own your asses, YOU WILL DANCE WHEN I COMMAND YOU TO DANCE! (holds up fist)
Linkara (v/o): She walks by the Turtles, Michelangelo saying that she's quite a babe... which is about on par and creepiness...
(Cut to a shot of the "Kool-Aid Man" comic)
Linkara (v/o): ...as the Kool-Aid Man getting kissed by a twelve-year-old.
(Cut back to the "TMNT/Archie" comic)
Linkara (v/o): However, Veronica is quickly nabbed by two guys claiming to be from the IRS. She, of course, asks what the hell is up, but they keep saying she needs to come with them.
Veronica: I most certainly will not!
Agent 1: I think you will...!
Veronica: I'm beginning to get your point!
Linkara: (as Veronica) Gasp! You have grasped my arms in an awkward manner! I surrender immediately!
Linkara (v/o): The Archie gang wonders if Veronica is ditching them, but then they spot the Turtles. Betty and Archie recognize them as the aliens from before, but Raphael starts to give an overly scientific explanation of the events. Though, I'm guessing this was suppose to be Donatello, except that doesn't make any sense, given the color coordination of their clothes. Plus, it's usually Raph in the trenchcoat. But anyway, the Turtles say it's likely Veronica was abducted and that they'll help them get her back.
Raphael: I'm Raphael. This is my brother, Donatello.
Betty: I'm Betty.
Linkara: I'm sorry, but they're really accepting the whole "giant talking turtles" thing pretty easily. You'd think there'd be more questions, especially given the Turtles' method of transportation.
Linkara (v/o): Betty explains that Veronica comes from one of the richest families in Riverdale, so it's likely that she was kidnapped for ransom money. Speaking of which, we cut to Veronica in a motel where the two kidnappers lean over as if the ceiling was too low.
Veronica: Just look at the wallpaper and this carpeting and that tacky bedspread– Yuck!! The interior decorator for this place must have been color-blind – or more likely, just plain blind!
Linkara: It's good that Veronica has her priorities straight when she's kidnapped.
Linkara (v/o): One of them tells her to shut up, since he has a gun, and then tells her to call her father with the ransom demands. The Turtles spot the kidnappers' car at the hotel, and– wait, why are the kidnappers the only ones who have a car in the parking lot? Is this Norman Bates' motel? Anyway, they concoct a quick plan to stage their rescue, which consists of Jughead knocking on the door and pretending to be a pizza man as a distraction, before the Turtles leap through a window that magically grows when they smash through it. Also, they must've actually gone out and grabbed a pizza, since we see Jughead eating from it while Raphael practices his telekinetic shoving. See? One telekinetic shove, and the kidnapper is flying across the room. And so, the story ends with them going out for pizza together in celebration of the fact that Veronica evidently has no psychological scaring from her kidnapping and rescue by Ninja Turtles. Oh, and the dog is glum, because apparently turtles get served at the cafe, but not dogs.
Linkara: (laughs) Oh, it still makes no sense.
Linkara (v/o) This is a 64-page special, so of course, there's more than one story in it, and thus our next story begins: "Red Sails In the Sunset". We find our intrepid heroes on an island with April O'Neil and another mutant animal named Man Ray. What the hell are they doing on this island, and how did they get there? Well, maybe April's journal could shed some light on that.
April's journal: A day has passed since we buried Bubbla the Glublub...
Linkara: Or, it'll just make us ask more questions.
Linkara (v/o): Also, for some reason, Raphael has ditched his bandanna. Why? Also not explained. Anyway, a pirate ship suddenly appears just off the coast of the island. At this point, we also finally get a caption box that says that this story takes place between issues 16 and 17. Fair enough; I'll try to keep my critiques to the– OH, DEAR GOD! WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THE ART?!? NO, SERIOUSLY, WHAT THE HELL IS UP WITH THE ART ON THE TURTLES?! THEY LOOK LIKE THEY'RE MELTING!! HOW LONG HAVE THEY BEEN IN THE SUN ON THIS ISLAND?! Anyway, they board the ship, discovering a skeleton that's intact with a sword in its mouth and a door with the sign: "Abandon Hope – All Ye Who Enter Here...!"
Linkara: (quoting Dante's "Inferno") "Through me you pass into the city of woe: / Through me you pass into eternal pain: / Through me among the people lost for aye. / Justice the founder of my fabric moved: / To rear me was the task of Power divine, / Supremest Wisdom, and primeval Love. / Before me things create were none, save things/ Eternal, and eternal I endure. / All hope abandon, ye who enter here. Such characters, in color dim, I mark'd / Over a portal's lofty arch inscribed." (beat) READ A BOOK, PEOPLE!
Linkara (v/o): Naturally, the Turtles decide to say, "Screw the ominous and hellish warning," and instead leap right into the room, discovering a locked treasure chest and several skeletons. While Raph tries to get the lock off the chest, April reads a note left near it.
April: (reading) "Lift the curse... by freeing... the lady... and letting... the sands of time... wash over her!"
Linkara (v/o): And then suddenly, spirits and souls come flying out of the treasure chest!
Linkara: (terrified) OH, DEAR GOD, THEY FOUND THE ARK OF THE COVENANT! (looking away and closing his eyes) NOBODY LOOK AT IT!!
Linkara: Well, actually, it contained the souls of the crew, which reanimates the skeletons and attack. The Turtles fight them and– OH, NO, MIKEY'S HEAD IS DEFLATING! Erm... Anyway, April gets an idea.
April: Are you thinking what I'm thinking, Man Ray?
(Cut to a clip of Pinky and the Brain)
Pinky: I don't think so, Brain, but if we give peas a chance, won't the lima beans feel left out?
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Man Ray grabs a bone off of a skeleton to distract a skeleton dog... for some reason. While the Turtles engage the skeletons, Man Ray and April try to figure out how to lift the curse and stop the skeletons' attacking. They spot the figurehead on the front of the boat that looks like a woman and figure that that's the "lady" that the note referred to. Leo cuts it loose and the two start two start burying it in the sand, figuring that that's what "sands of time" meant. Personally, I thought they were referring to Prince of Persia, but hey, what do I know? The Turtles continue to battle. (the panel focuses on an unusually wide-eyed Michelangelo battling a skeleton) SWEET JIMINY CHRISTMAS! Seriously, what the hell is up with the artwork for this story?! I don't even know how to describe what we're looking at here! Man Ray and April finish burying the figure.
April: That's it, then... or is it?!!
(A dramatic sting is heard as Linkara opens his mouth in shock, but then he abruptly waves dismissively)
Linkara: No, wait, it is. Never mind, false alarm.
Linkara (v/o): Yeah, no idea why she said that since the ship immediately collapses along with the skeletons. And so, this story ends with the group deciding to put Raph in the treasure chest since he was the idiot who opened it up to begin with. Geez, what a disappointing story; you had Ninja Turtles fighting pirate skeletons, and you ruined it with bad art and the fact that none of the pirates spoke. We didn't get any pirate accents. Lame! (turn the page to the next story) Our next story... isn't a story per se. It was apparently a mini-comic donated by Mirage Studios to the Santa Monica Bay Restoration Project... Oh, and thanks for the typo right there.* Smooth... as part of Earth Day in 1990. It's just a PSA to not pollute and... wait, is that a human skull? What the hell? Oh, and it's on its side. This does happen sometimes where there's a splash page that you have to turn on its side in order to read, but it's rarer than the double-page spread, and it's not as irritating to me because it makes a little more sense in terms of spreading out what you can fit in the panel restrictions. Anyway, our final story brings us to... Whoa! April! What's with your eyes?!
- NOTE: The typo is that "Project" is misspelled "Pproject".
Linkara: Have you been getting much sleep lately? I can't believe they put you on TV looking like that.
Linkara (v/o): Anywho, the Shredder is watching a news report about a ship that was capsized in a storm and that they had discovered a frozen caveman. The Shredder is also not wearing his helmet. I can't remember if he ever took off the helmet in the cartoon or not. As it turns out, the Shredder stole the caveman and is using mutagen on it to transform it into a new servant.
Shredder: Yes!... Yes... it's working! I can almost see his strength increasing beyond measure!
Linkara: (as Shredder) See how he just lays there in the tube? Clearly, his power is increasing!
Shredder: But I want more! Do you hear me?! Turn up the power... I want more power!
(Cut to a clip of the Cyberleader from Doctor Who)
Cyberleader: More power!
(Back to the comic again)
Linkara (v/o): Bebop and Rocksteady do as he commands, but they overheat the machine and the caveman breaks out, starting to transform into a half man-half mammoth. The cave mammoth runs wild and escapes the Technodrome. Shredder orders Bebop and Rocksteady to go kill it since such a creature will be uncontrollable.
Linkara: And... how exactly did you plan on controlling it in the first place?
Linkara (v/o): The cave mammoth comes up right where the Ninja Turtles are playing in the snow and he runs amuck. The cave mammoth, still growing from the mutagen, picks up Michelangelo, and the two just look at each other. The others hit the cave mammoth's foot, which gets him to release Mikey. He tells the others that after looking into his eyes, he doesn't think the cave mammoth means to be violent; it's just that he's in a lot of pain.
Michelangelo: Look at him, brothers...none of this is his fault. He's just...confused.
Linkara: He sure is confused. I mean, where the heck is that headband he's wearing come from? He didn't have it on when he was a caveman.
Linkara (v/o): Bebop and Rocksteady come in on a flying car and blast the cave mammoth into the ocean. The Turtles try to rescue him, but he's too large and he drowns. The two henchmen celebrate that they were the ones who killed the monster and fly off, leaving the Turtles saddened by the loss of the violent, oversized caveman who only seemed to be nonviolent because Mikey stared at him for a few seconds.
Leonardo: Yes, he's dead, but who's the monster here? Who's the monster?
Linkara: Well, considering it was two evil beings who killed it, and we only have Mikey's word that he wasn't violent, I'd say they were both monsters. But seriously, what the hell was that? Why did you end this on such a downer?!
Linkara (v/o): I mean, that's it! That's the comic! All kidding aside, we just ended a "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Meet Archie" on a note of depressing death! Geez, why is it that the Archie story was actually the best of the four here? I mean, our choices are the Archie story, the horribly-drawn skeleton pirates, a PSA, and the downer! There's something wrong with this picture! For that matter, for a comic called "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Meet Archie", only one of the stories had anything to do with Archie!
Linkara: (holding up comic) This comic sucks! Admittedly, it's not really that bad, but it's goofy, the artwork is varied, it doesn't make much sense, but hey, to its credit, it's not "JLA - Act of God". (throws down comic, gets up and leaves)
(End credits roll, to the theme for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles)
And yes, I know the gay character that has just been introduced to Archie. Insert your own joke here, but Archie is still selling better than a lot of mainstream superhero comics. It's a funny old world, idn't it?
(Stinger: A clip of The Simpsons, in which Archie's group drives up in front of the Simpson house, where Bart is sitting on the lawn, and throws out Homer)
Archie: (to Homer) Stay out of Riverdale!
(The gang drives off; cut to Homer sitting in his car, irritably reading an Archie comic)
Homer: Stuck-up Riverdale punks, think they're too good for me!