The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles meet Archie

A look at one of the greatest literary works mankind has ever achieved.
September 01, 2005

Comic Book: Eastman and Liard's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles meet Archie
Year: Spring 1990
Cost: $2.95 US
Approved by the CCA: Yes
Page count: 64
Current near mint worth: $3.00. Wow, a whole nickel.

Ah, the early '90s. When the comic book industry almost collapsed under a sea of multiple-cover printings and insane crossovers. Thankfully, this is one of the few treasures I've managed to keep from my short stint as a comic reader during my childhood. The crossovers had to be some of the most interesting and often insane efforts by these publishers, one of the most famous of course being Archie meets the Punisher; a premise that shouldn't work, but somehow does.

Seriously Betty. Pay attention to what you're doing.
The main storyline is fairly simple. Archie is putting the moves on Betty in his sweet red convertible when his macking is interrupted by... a giant floating severed cowhead spitting out four anthropomorphic turtles. Seriously. You can't make this up.

All the tax dollars wasted on rockets, when the means of traveling the universe is available on the slaughterhouse floor as leftovers.
It's Cowlick! Now I can't really recall what preceded this comic, but I can remember some. As my memory serves me, Cowlick took the turtles to some kind of alien gladiator ring (comic book cliche #1142), and now has them hopping dimensions in their efforts to try and find a way home. This no doubt inspired the creators of Sliders, who copped out and used those little remotes instead of a giant talking cow head. Some small talk with the giant floating cow head ensues, which turns into a fairly more adult nature. I may have been stupid as a kid, but I don't think I was the only one who didn't have a great understanding of world politics.

Ooh, Mesopotamia is so burned!
So Archie and Betty book it out of there, because really... they just saw a friggin' giant cow head spit out 4 talking turtles. Having just witnessed what could possibly cause the scientific and religious communities to be turned about on their heads, offering truth to not only the existence of extraterrestrial life in this universe as well and revolutionizing the very concept of the laws of physics, they of course notify the proper authorities. Just kidding, they run to Pop's Malte and Ye Olde Burgere Shoppe Emporiume, and are laughed at by the hip and trendy teens. After all, their friends are visibly emotionally destraught, taunting is the prescription to cure this affliction.

Where all the white women at?
Then enters Token Black Guy, who appears twice; once on page 7 and again in a crowd on page 10. Really, I can't blame them for not giving him more screentime, especially since he's got the whole mutant alien spaghetti hand thing going for him. When you're deformed like that, you don't leave the house very often. Regardless, Token has ventured outside as the herald of a grand message; Josie and the Pussiecats are about to start their set, come on guys! Archie asks for a vanilla ice cream with fudge sauce to calm his nerves, but that clever Pops says he should lay off the sauce. Ha ha, what a card that Pops is. Turning down customers because they don't share his beliefs, what a kooky guy. Unless of course he's lacing his sundae toppings with high proof vodka, which would explain Jughead's addiction to his food. He's not a greedy pig, he's an alcoholic! It all makes sense now!

I can't tell which is which without their masks. All turtles look alike to me.
The turtles, being upstanding citizens, steal some clothes so they can go into town and get some food. Of course, only one of them bothers to steal a hat, and none of them are wearing masks, shoes, socks or gloves... but they took off their ninja bandanas, so obviously no one will think them suspicious. Except for that white sheepdog. I think his name is Mr. Snickerdoo. Personally, I just become lost as to who is whom, but I suppose given that it's a children's comic, it doesn't really matter.

Are we at a restaurant? Because Reggie just got served.
Back at the concert, the Pussycats are rockin' out and all those crazy teens are dancing away. The drummer is singing for some reason. Maybe she thinks she's part of Van Halen? Reggie of course cuts into Archie about his alien sighting, to which the ever quick and firey redhead retorts "Why don't you go pound sand!" Yeah, you tell him kid! That's just how those youngsters talk. Very edgy, this comic book. They're totally not going to pull any punches.

Archie Andrews, no wonder so many teens die in car accidents. You're a bad influence, mister!
Of course Veronica gets kidnapped, because otherwise we wouldn't get any ninja action now would we? Archie, being a brilliant detective (which led to the tv series, I'm guessing) notes that those suspicious looking characters might have something to do with it. So as soon as they meet these two groups hit it off extremely easily... way too easily, even if they were talking to other humans it'd be way to friendly. But of course who wouldn't immediately befriend 4 giant talking green aliens? I wouldn't, but I guess I'm a racist.

Way to keep a low profile there, Skippy.
So they all pile into Archie's car (obviously more than the recommended seating capacity, how did the CCA miss that one?) and speed through Riverdale looking for the phony IRS agents / kidnappers. There's no need to call the cops, because THEY HAVE A PLAN. Pretending to be a pizza boy, Jughead distracts them and is promptly had a gun waved at him. Because kidnappers want to draw attention to themselves. Finally, that's the cue to start crackin' heads together. NINJA BUST THROUGH WINDOW JITSU! Apparently getting punched in the back makes a "bunt" sound. EDUTAINMENT.

Dude, you just punched that guy in the back so hard a tooth came out through the back of his head.
THE DAY IS SAVED! Daddy comes running in with a suitcase full of money. In gratitude (and in no way surprised by the 4 giant green talking turtles he claims are dressed rather oddly) he offers... to treat them to burgers at Pops Burger Barn and Chicken Extravaganza. "EXCELLENT IDEA, DUDE!" quotes Michelangelo. Oh that crazy hipster. Frankly, I'm a bit surprised at Daddy Waterbucks here. He was about to hand over a couple of million dollars to hostage takers. Not only did he do it quickly, but he didn't even notify the authorities. It's sounding a bit like a Big Lebowski frame-up. They could have been a terrorist sleeper cell, who would have used the money to construct uranium-laced dirty bombs to be detonated in the nation's most heavily trafficked centers. Plus, despite the millions being "petty cash", he decides a suitable reward to be dropping a whole $50 at the local dive on burgers and pizza? I guess what they say is true; you don't get rich by signing a lot of cheques.

Hey big spender.
Close with a full page shot of the gang at Pops, that dog complainin' about how they're allowed in but he can't, Donny and Milton being nerd stereotypes, and a costume joke by Moose who actually uses the word "duh" in a sentence.

It looks like someone left Mikey out in the sun for too long.
The comic isn't actually all that bad. The non-cover stories are the best, featuring a darker, grittier tale involving a ghost pirate ship and some kind of manta ray guy. It's actually a pretty cool story, since it's a lot more macabre than the rest of the book. I mean, the ship is full of skeletons, how cool is that? Sure, the turtles look like wax candles that were left on the dashboard of a black minivan in the middle of August, but April O'Neill is in this one, sporting a rather daring brown safari-shirt and hotpants number. Rrawr.

Things are looking bad when Bebop and Rocksteady are acting as the voice of reason.
After a short eco-friendly message about not littering, the comic jumps to the third and final story. Probably the most morose tale in this volume, the Shredder has sunk a ship, killing all of it's crew for a single item; the frozen remains of a caveman. Of course, unlike every other frozen caveman ever found, this one is perfectly in tact, encased in a giant ice cube. Whenever I see frozen corpses on the Discovery channel they always look like beef jerky, but I guess Encino Man has the true physics it takes to keep a caveman in MISB condition.

Having just learned that the caveman is in fact still alive, the Shredder does the only reasonable thing; pump the stasis tank full of mutagen, more than he's ever used before. After all, nothing bad ever came from using too much of a highly powerful mutative substance, right? He doesn't even have any idea of what is going to happen, or what kind of animal will emerge from the tank. The Shredder doesn't let little things like facts get in the way of science, crying for full power while his poor lackeys Bebop and Rocksteady protest. Of course the machines explode, and the poor caveman is revived, mutating into a mastodon-man.

The MastodonMan (I refuse to call him a MammothMan. That's sooooooooo common) looks at his hands with confusion as he grows larger and larger, reaching 12' and still growing. The Shredder is thrilled; he likes his men big and hairy. But of course, this is a mad science equation, and so the monster gets loose. Shredder orders Bebop and Rocksteady to go out and terminate the experiment. Now, I'm no scientist, but I really have to criticize the Shredder's methods when it comes to experiments. He established no control groups, he made no effort to prepare the subject beforehand, he made none of the proper safety preparations regarding equipment and containment of the subject, and he just dumped in all the mutagen he had rather than using a safer, more reasonable dosage. It sounds more like high school chemistry class with the kids from the back of the class rather than a cutting edge doomsday factory. But then again, the man takes order from a giant lumpy brain with a face and arms which travels around in the stomach of a mechanical man.

The turtles of course are out in broad daylight making snow men when the MastodonMan attacks, now about 50' tall. Of course, they soon learn that he's just scared and confused, and calm him down... despite the fact that the creature came from a time about 50,000 years before the English language evolved. Of course, once they've tamed the beast, Bebop and Rocksteady come zooming in on their flying purple space Cadillac, complete with missile battery. I don't see why the Shredder has to make new mutants if he has access to flying cars that shoot missiles, surely he could build robots capable of making more cars, and outfitting the Foot clan with some wicked attack vehicles. But hey, the man listens to Krang. Bebop and Rocksteady get right into it, and blow the MastodonMan into the very same frozen river he emerged from just moments before to attack the turtles. Only this time he can't swim. The turtles rush to his rescue, somehow believing the 4 of them could hall 50' of mutated elephant giant out of the water. As the MastodonMan drowns he utters a garbled "Guud bye", apparently having learned one English word during his short stint as a giant freak, despite no one having said it in his presence. The two joyriders head back to base, because obviously swinging around for another pass and attempting to nuke their boss' sworn enemies with rockets while they stand around lamenting the death of the MastodonMan would be far too underhanded for even the Shredder's crew.

I'm going to say animal-human creatures, Alex.

Rating: 3 out of 5. Not great writing for the main comic, but the art was a nice bit of nostalgia. The other stories are worth a read, and much better written. This comic is worth picking up for a buck or two, even if just to tell people that you own it. It's definatally an interesting conversation piece, and you may want to keep it as hard evidence to prove to your friends that it does indeed exist.

Where does Reggie get those shirts with his name on them? That's what I want to know.
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