Monday, January 15, 2018

Longbox Junk - Bodycount

Ninja Turtles? Cowabunga, dude!  
Wait. . .why is Raphael cursing and using an Uzi?
What the hell IS this?

BODYCOUNT
Image (1996)
SCRIPTS: Kevin Eastman
ART: Simon Bisley
COVERS: Simon Bisley

ISSUE 1

Casey Jones and Ninja Turtle Raphael are unwittingly dragged between a Hong Kong Hitman and his target, a top-heavy criminal named Midnight. Bullets, blood, and violent hilarity ensue!

Okay. . .first off, from what I've read, Image wisely changed the original title on this mini from "Raphael & Casey Jones" to "Bodycount" so it wouldn't look so much like a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle book.  So there's a bit of comic trivia for you. 

That said. . .

The title "Bodycount" is a pretty damn good one word description of the whole thing, as this HAS to be the bloodiest, most violent Ninja Turtle product in existence.

Most of this issue deals with setup. Casey Jones is in a bar fight that a marked criminal (Midnight) just happens to run into while fleeing from a hitman (Johnny Woo Woo). Raphael joins the fight when things get serious and escapes with Casey and Midnight at the end.

It's basically one long, brutal fight scene from start to finish. Bisley's art is reliably Biz-Tastic, and the reveal of Raphael jumping into the fight is poster-worthy.

Overall, I was a bit surprised by the over the top violence and gore. This is definitely NOT a book for kids. It's extremely light on story and pretty much serves as a showcase for Bisley's art. Accept it for that, and it's pretty good. Expect anything else and it's not.


ISSUE 2


Hunted criminal Midnight sweet talks Casey Jones into helping her get to "Sanctuary", a place where criminals can leave their past behind. Raphael comes along for the ride, which quickly turns explosive as Cybernetic Hong Kong hitman Johnny Woo Woo picks up their trail. 

Bisley's art on this issue falters a bit as he encounters his greatest weakness. . .vehicles. For some reason, Bisley can't draw cars worth a crap in anything I've ever seen from him. This issue is no exception. The cars on the cover look fine, but inside. . .no bueno.

Midnight, Casey Jones, and Raphael hit the road, trying to get Midnight safely to a place called "Sanctuary". But really, once again the extremely thin story is just an excuse for ultra-violent and gory visuals.

Basically, except for the first 3 pages, the whole issue is a running battle. Once again. . .accept this for what it is (a showcase for Simon Bisley) and it's pretty good. Expect anything other than that and it's going to be extremely disappointing.


ISSUE 3

Casey Jones, Raphael, and Midnight finally make it to Sanctuary, where they meet whacked-out preacher Martin. Unfortunately, their safe place turns out to not be so safe when Hitman Johnny Woo Woo and his men attack! 

Okay, first. . .the cover. Booooob-Tastic!

In this issue, they finally make it to "Sanctuary", which is a fortress/church presided over by a whacked-out apocalyptic priest named Martin. They have about 5 minutes of peace before pursuing hitman Johnny Woo Woo attacks.

As with the previous issues, the story here is extremely thin and mainly serves as a flimsy backdrop to the violence and gore, because of that, the introduction of a new and interesting character (Martin) is just sort of glossed over.

All in all, this was a decent issue for what it is, and nicely sets up what's sure to be a bloody finish to this strange little Ninja Turtle's tale.


ISSUE 4

It's time for the big finish! Raphael discovers the joy of firearms! Midnight and Johnny Woo Woo duel to the death! Everything that isn't already shot with a gun explodes! What else did you expect?
 
And here we are at the end of it all. . .

After a huge, bloody battle where Raphael arms up and goes a little crazy. . .possibly revealing the TRUE motive behind this strange mini as he shouts "Kill! Kill! That's what they want!" as he guns down enemies. . .Martin forces Midnight and Johnny Woo Woo to knife-duel to the death in a "Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves" style arena.

Midnight kills Johnny after it's revealed that he is actually her brother *facepalm*

Martin explodes the church for an apocalyptic finish, then Casey, Raphael and Midnight go their separate ways, with Midnight leaving for parts unknown with Martin.

All in all, this issue nicely wrapped up what little story there was in this mini. Like I said above, I think that Raphael's words during the opening gun battle betray the true narrative here. . .people were tired of the cartoon Cowabunga ninja turtles and Kevin Eastman said F**K IT! And gave people what they wanted, and made it so over the top violent that it never happened again.

I think this whole mini was Eastman's middle finger to his critics. 

Nicely done, sir. Nicely done indeed.

CONCLUSION
Like I said above, I can think of no other reason for this unusual story to exist other than as Kevin Eastman raising a 4 issue middle finger to the critics who wanted the Ninja Turtles to be more violent again.

Given that theory, it succeeds brilliantly.  There's been nothing this bloody and violent that I know of connected to the turtles since.  Furthermore, his choice of artist for this ultra-violent story in Simon Bisley was inspired and perfect.

Overall, once I realized what the true purpose of this mini was (probably. . .once again, just my own theory), I enjoyed it.  I wouldn't suggest it to anyone easily offended, but if you're not one of those people who need safe spaces over a lost election, take a look at this strange little artifact from the 90's.

Up next. . .

The crustiest bounty hunter that ever rode the range and one of my all-time favorite comic characters.

Jonah Hex! SEVENTY GODDAMN ISSUES worth!

Be there or be square!