Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles # 21

Writers/Layouts: Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird
Pencils: Jim Lawson
Publisher: Mirage Studios
Published: May 1989

At the core of the Ninja Turtle saga is a blood feud. Stemming from Japan, Splinter's master, Hamato Yoshi, killed a fellow Foot Clan member, Oroku Nagi, to protect his beloved Tang Shen. Yoshi fled to America with Shen, but was later tracked by Oroku Saki, the brother of Nagi, now renamed Shredder and the leader of the Foot Clan. Saki ambushed Shen and Yoshi, killing them both. Splinter escapes to the sewers, and thus begins the saga of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

In the first issue, the Turtles confront Shredder on a NY rooftop, and pretty much beat him to a near fatal pulp. Shredder, not one to accept death honorably, plans on blowing up everyone on the roof with a grenade. Donatello quickly tosses his bo staff at Shredder, knocking him off the side. There's no falling into a garbage truck here though; the grenade goes off, shredding (had to :) Shredder to tiny bits. The comic ends with the Turtles surveying the damage, with Raphael tossing the left over remains of Shredder to the side. The Shredder is dead. Or is he?


He's not dead. Turns out not only can the Shredder survive a garbage truck crushing, but also a grenade explosion. That's some tough shit.

Issue 21 brings closure to the blood feud between the Turtles and the Shredder. After Shredder was blown to bits, the Foot Clan gathered his remains, and through science and mysticism, they were able to use worms to reform Saki. There are 4 attempts, with 3 ending in gross mutations of the Shredder, and the fourth being the real deal. The issue has very little dialogue, but a tonne of carnage. It's like Michael Bay fused with Peter Jackson to make this comic. Arms are getting cut off, blood is splattering everywhere, machines guns are a-blazin', and buildings are exploding. Strictly on a caveman-bash-skull level, this is what good Mutated Turtles are all about!

Beyond the violence, this comic is a great finish to the blood feud. Shredder and Leonardo get into one helluva knife fight. It takes up 9 pages, with no sounds besides grunts, swords smashing, and various "Hai's!" spewed menacingly. The battle ends with Saki getting decapitated. As with all villains who return from the dead, when in doubt, take the head. Works for vampires and highlanders.

Just like the first issue, issue 21 ends with the Turtles saying goodbye to the Shredder. They take his body out to the NY harbor, set him afloat and burn his corpse. I'm not sure if they're doing this out of honor, or just following through on monster killing 101. Probably honor. Anyway, a great ending to an ancient feud.

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