Bodycount (1996), by Kevin Eastman and Simon Bisley, is a Ninja Turtles comic book with attitude. In many ways, they were trying hard to take the Turtles back from the hit TV series, back to their indie comic roots, and tap into the market of kids like me who had grown up with Raph, Mikey, Leo, and Donnie. In the end, the 4-part series is a grindhouse spectacle that hardly holds together. But who cares! It had lots of blood and boobs, Casey Jones and Raph being badasses, and a villain straight out of Terminator 2: Judgement Day (1991)
And Julie Strained…
By the time the first comic came out, we — the kids who grew up on the first animated show — were teenagers ourselves, in high school. That’s 1996, around the same time that Penthouse Pet Julie Strain was splashed all over Heavy Metal Magazine. Knowing Kevin Eastman’s fascination with her, and that she modeled for both Kevin and Simon’s drawings, it’s not hard to see why Midnight looks just like her. In fact, Kevin and Strain had married in 1995. Still, you couldn’t get a better mix if you wanted to appeal to Turtles fans who were already fighting to control their hormones. April O’Neil in latex, maybe?
So, taken in the context of the target market, Bodycount hit the mark. But teenagers aren’t stupid, and I think we probably felt the flaws in the comic, even if we couldn’t articulate them then. The writing is difficult to digest, and the images can be hard to decipher. It’s hard for me to take my editor’s cap off, so let’s talk about spelling
wuicklu quickly. The comics are full of errors, such as “calvary” instead of “cavalry”, “to” instead of “too”, and “Santuary” instead of “Sanctuary”, which is one of the most important locations in the story. It becomes hard to know if you’re missing a joke or reading too much into the bad copy.
Art-wise, Bisley’s London-punk style is great, but sometimes too simple, like the three-dimensional rectangles that we’re supposed to read as pistols. There are inconsistencies too, much like with the spelling, such as Johnny’s hand looking normal in some panels, or Midnight firing her pistol with her left and then her right hand in the next panel. It gets a bit too looney, too. What’s that weird monkey leprechaun about anyway?
But okay, Bodycount is still fun and entertaining, like a bad accident set to rousing classical music. This is, after all, an indie comic, and that’s why I love it. Don’t expect polish. Don’t expect any real maturity (hey, when have the Turtles ever been mature?), and just enjoy the wild, wild ride.
3 out of 5 Chibi-thulhus.
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Hey there, I’m Rodney!
I’m a writer and editor of tabletop RPGs and a painter of Orks. Welcome to Rising Phoenix Games!
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