Publisher: IDW Publishing
Writer: Dean Clarrian
Artist: Chris Allan
The all-ages action continues in “Dreamland!” In the future, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have become the Cyber Samurai Mutant Ninja Turtles. The brothers have new powers and new allies, and they’re going to need them to face some new enemies in this time-hopping story from the world of tomorrow!
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures was a comic series that ran from 1988 to 1995, and whilst it was separate from the original comic series and the popular 1987 television series, it took a lot of visual inspiration from the show. The comic even began by adapting the show in its initial issues, before moving in its own direction to feature unique stories, which often incorporated social themes such as environmental and animal rights issues.
The five issues collected together in Volume 15 of the graphic novel contain one of the stranger and more unique of these stories, having moved away from the regular continuity to tell a story of an alternate group of turtles in a distant future. Everything in this story is different, and unlike anything else in the comics. This is the story called ‘Dreamland’.
The world has been flooded due to the melting of the polar ice caps, caused by global warming, leaving a future version of New York City that is filled with water, with small artificial islands built around skyscrapers.
The turtles are vastly different from the sewer dwelling ninjas we’re used to: here Donatello is a tech genius company owner who has built advanced battle-suits for himself and his brothers (basically Tony Stark), and even has a time travel portal; Raphael and his wife Mezcaal, a mutant dog woman, own a bar; Leonardo owns a ninja dojo where he teaches a number of students, three of whom appear to be his adopted children who go out on crime fighting patrols with him; and Michelangelo is an artist who runs an orphanage.
Each of the turtles bears some resemblance to their regular counterparts, with a lot of personality traits being the same, but despite this they never feel like the turtles we all know and love. They’re more extreme versions of themselves, Leo is even more focused on ninja training, Donnie is obsessed with tech, and Raphael is more bloodthirsty.
Despite never having seen this version of the turtles before we’re dropped into the middle of this new world, with the turtles already having had a whole series of adventures with their own villains, Splinter having died, and many previous events being referenced with no explanation as to what they’re about.
Whilst this does give the impression of a fully formed universe for this five part story, it feels more like picking up an issue of a long established book, without any idea of who’s who or what has happened. It pulls you out of the story, it makes you feel like you’re missing things, and it just distracts more than it helps.
A prime example of things just happening with little to no explanation is the Time-Slip Generator, the time travel device mentioned earlier. At the start of the story Donnie is making repairs to it because of someone called Armaggon having broken it whilst breaking in (no explanation as to these events are given). By the end of the story they’ve travelled back to Nazi Germany in order to stop Hitler’s brain, which was in the lab in a robot for no apparent reason. I’m sure these things made sense to someone, but I struggled with a lot of these storylines and events that had no apparent reason for being there.
The suits that the turtles wear in this story are basically the old Cyber Samurai Turtles figures released in the 80’s toy line, which also featured in one episode of the show. Because they’re based on some terrible 80’s toys, that’s how they look: absolutely awful. They look nothing alike, covered in bizarre adornments and protrusions, they’re pretty terrible from a design point of view.
Mixed into these strange ‘what-if’ issues is a small back-up story at the end of each issue involving April O’Neil investigating what appears to be an angel appearing in New York. Being set in the regular turtles’ time and place this tiny story is much better than the Dreamland story, and it’s a shame that it didn’t have more of the book given over to it.
Overall, I found this volume of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures to be a bit of a disappointment. It wasn’t easy to get into, the story made little sense and had huge leaps in logic, and the designs were pretty awful. Thankfully, this is a single story, and not the entire run of the series.