Few comic books have been as adapted as have Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. From the cartoons in the late 80s, to the live action abominations of a couple years ago, it’s clear that this brand is highly marketable, regardless of quality. I have been a huge fan of TMNT since they first exploded into the mainstream close to 30 years ago. I collected the toys. I spent countless hours watching the cartoons. I even owned the Coming Out Of Our Shells music cassette that was remorselessly pimped by Pizza Hut.
As time has passed, my taste has improved and I have come to have a more critical view towards the lean green ninja team. I find myself enjoying the current Nickelodeon cartoon; it’s a lot of fun nonsense, which is exactly what it should be. This is a story about turtles, and the idea that via some extra-dimensional substance they become intelligent humanoid creatures that learn the art of Ninjutsu. Oh, from a mutated rat. That was once a Japanese ninja warrior. And they really love pizza.
The premise is idiotic, but the stories are the best when they embrace the idiocy and don’t force the reader/viewer to think too hard. We don’t need hefty explanations about background. We don’t need to wonder how they mastered their lethal arts. Just have fun with it…
Which is why the live action film of a couple years ago – just festering with the DNA of Michael Bay – was sooooo goddamn bad. They tried so hard to make the story make sense by eliminating some of the core elements. It didn’t hurt it at the box office, because kids loved it. Even some adults defend it, which is probably indicative of why Donald Trump is a leading presidential candidate.
In June, the live action film will get a sequel. Out of the Shadows or some such shit. I won’t be watching it. It’s going to be awful. But at least they are attempting to up the fun. They’re going to screw it up, but I can appreciate the effort.
I call it effort because they are introducing two of the most notable characters in Ninja Turtles lore: Bebop and Rocksteady. The two street-thugs-turned -mutants are a staple of the franchise. While they aren’t in the original comics, they made a name for themselves as the bumbling cronies of the Shredder in the 1987 cartoon series. They were memorable enough to be added into later cartoons and comics. They’re imposing enough at first glance – as a humanoid warthog and rhinoceros armed with automatic weapons would be – but their stupidity always makes them more punchline than potent.
This June will mark their first appearance in a live action film. Bebop will be played by Gary Anthony Williams (Undercover Brother, Boondocks), while Rocksteady will be played by WWE superstar Sheamus. I have little hope for them. It’s got nothing to do with their acting skills. It’s that this movie has “radioactive turd” written all over it. It’s so depressing.
Meanwhile, IDW Comics – who currently own the publishing rights to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic books – will also premier a new series starring Bebop and Rocksteady, and for this, hopes are a bit higher. The title itself – Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything – is worthy of flashing neon lights and gratuitous caps lock usage. The plot is pretty amazing as well: Bebop and Rocksteady, reeling from another beat-down from the Turtles, stumble across a powerful artifact – the time scepter – and chaos ensues. In terms of plot revelation, this is a beautiful case of less being more.
The idea of these two idiots possessing a time-altering artifact screams Bill & Ted. That sort of balls-out insanity is just the ticket for making a fun comic experience for readers. Expect plenty of cameo appearances from the TMNT universe.
This summer will be therefore be known as “The Summer of Bebop and Rocksteady!”
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows premiers June 3. You could make better use of your money and burn it. Meanwhile, Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything hits newsstands sometime in June.
Vaya con Dios!
All opinions are that of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Deck Ape...or anyone else. Arrr!