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TMNT Revisited: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #9


tmntadventures009Codename: Chameleon

Plotted by: Steve Lavigne & Dean Clarrain
Written by: Dean Clarrain
Pencilled by: Jim Lawson
Inked & Lettered by: Gary Fields
Colored by: Barry Grossman
Cover: Steve Lavigne
Edited by: Scott Fulop
Managing Editor: Victor Gorelick
Published by: Archie Comics
Cover Date: March 1990
Cover Price: $1.00

raphael_mirage_micro_seriesThe cover of this issue has always been a bit distinctive to me…all the more in later years as I realized it was an homage piece to the cover of the Raphael one-issue Micro Series that originally introduced Casey Jones to the TMNT mythos in the Mirage-published books.

Five issues into this “new direction”–of all-new TMNT stories not rooted in the then-current cartoon or “original” Mirage continuity–and we again have our “Mutant of the Month” in a mostly standalone story. Knowing/remembering what these build to means that I say that in a positive light. It’s a bit formulaic, but it also means we’re getting a larger, expanded cast of characters to be involved as the series goes on, as well as said characters’ origins up-front and on-panel rather than having some mysterious figure that we’re left to wonder about until some later “big reveal” or such.

There’s also plenty of “meta knowledge” for me now, recognizing that these issues are from what would now be considered the “early days” of the TMNT property and what was going on behind the scenes at the time…like the creators on this book being given relatively free reign to do as they wanted and using characters they opted to use and so on…and to create/flesh out new characters both for the story and for the toy line, etc.

The story this issue focuses on a double-agent, code-named ‘Chameleon.’ He’s stolen some plans for for a secret super-weapon…and of course, that makes the news…which leads to Shredder wanting the plans, and sending Bebop and Rocksteady to find the agent. Said agent has conveniently decided to try hiding in/traveling via the sewers, so of course bumps into the turtles…while Bebop and Rocksteady have also taken to the sewers. Chameleon is taken when Shredder’s goons surprise the turtles with a Knucklehead robot (piloted by a Foot Soldier robot), and though he gives up the location of the plans, Shredder mutates him anyway…using mutagen and an actual chameleon. When he escapes and tries to retrieve the plans himself, he finds the turtles, Bebop, and Rocksteady in a standoff. Breaking it, he glows brightly and startling the goons, who shoot at him, causing a cave-in that allows Chameleon to escape with the plans, while trapping the mutants under the Knucklehead cutting off the turtles’ access to the room. We close on evidence that Chameleon has been changed internally as well as externally, setting him up for potential return appearances/adventures.

The writing on this issue continues with that certain “simplicity” I’ve been noting for awhile (and will probably quit touching on quite so blatantly moving forward). Yet it also includes quite a bit of depth when one really thinks about it. There’s plenty of room to wonder at the past adventures of the double agent, how it’s KNOWN he’s a DOUBLE-agent, and so on. Then there’s the fact he’s now a mutant, transformed against his will, and what that means for his ongoing life. Also delving into darker territory–we see the turtles contemplating that nemeses Bebop and Rocksteady might have been killed by the cave-in (or the unspoken notion of them suffocating while buried under the rubble). They’re obviously not HAPPY about it…though they don’t put any particular effort into looking for the bodies.

Lawson‘s back on the art for this issue, and it’s another one where I would not have recognized his art as his own were it not for the credits presented in the issue. I definitely like that, as the look is consistent ENOUGH that it doesn’t stand out here as radically different or anything. The overall linework seems fairly simple/minimal, which I notice in relation to plenty of other contemporary comics (TMNT and otherwise) but it works for the story, gets everything across, and there’s really no doubt what’s going on as everything is kept obvious.

This is far from being a favorite issue for me, though it’s not bad. If I didn’t know where the series was headed I might’ve enjoyed this more; as-is I’m eager to get to The Final Conflict and the Mutanimals and Invasion stuff.

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