Teenage Mutant Gun-toting Turtles!

Yeah- that's a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle with a gun.  Bodycount was a weird book...
 By weird, I mean... intense.  For someone like me- who grew up with the original TMNT cartoon, video-games, and movies: Seeing Raphael gleefully firing an automatic-weapon in 1996 was... confusing.
Even being aware of the Mirage comics- and how much less kid-friendly they were in comparison to the cartoon- The Turtles still weren't rockin' submachine guns in them!

So, how did we get here?

Well, originally titled Casey Jones and Raphael, Bodycount was scheduled to come out in 1994 from Mirage Publications.  It was written by TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman, and drawn by the gruesome Simon Bisley.  Image Comics, more specifically Erik Larsen, later got the publishing rights and said- 'Hey, before we launch our new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic- this one is already done- so let's just put it out first!'

The comic is LOUD. Casey, Raph, and new character Midnight are on the run from bullets and explosions for the entire comic.  They are pretty-much getting shot at by assassins on every fucking page.  They eventually run out of onomatopoeia to use for all the shots and explosions in this bitch... it doesn't let up, it doesn't stop.  -You can't combat that kind of onslaught with sai and hockey-sticks...  Casey Jones, like Batman; abhors guns... but we all know how easily agitated and frustrated Raphael can get. He can only take running, and getting shot at constantly, for so long: 

The first taste is free.  Everything starts small... This is mid-issue #2
All he does here is blow the tires out of the car perusing them. Sure it then loses control, crashes over the guardrail, and explodes... but it's not like he's blowing people's faces off... yet.
Bad guy Johnny Woo Woo and his crew of Yakuza assassins are on a rampage. They're attacking them in public- the club, the streets, on the highway, at Grand Central Station- innocent bystanders are being riddled with bullets all around them. 
And like I said- it never lets up.  
By issue #3; Raph (understandably) starts going a little crazy:

By the beginning of issue #4: He has straight-up lost it:

Like I said- having grown up with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles- seeing this was jarring.  -Awesome, but you can't help but be taken aback by it... just a little bit.

Raphael has gone off the deep end- what could possibly bring him back?

I love the Casey Jones / Raphael dynamic. Their friendship is my favorite thing in the first movie... And I've enjoyed it in every iteration since- right into the newest NickTurtles show. 

'Simple' does not mean 'bad'... His best friend Casey, who hates guns, just got mowed down by the thing Raph has come to love. Simple works.

-Obvious spoiler alert, but Casey Jones does not die. -Be real.  
But it shocks Raph back.  He begs to the sky- Please, don't let Casey die.  I'll do anything... anything.
Casey comes to, and says what he has been saying the entire miniseries: "I... hate... guns".
Simple works.

Meanwhile- while all of this is going on... it was only a matter of time in an Eastman/Bisley comic before Julie Strain look-a-like Midnight showed up looking like this:

(Eastman was married to The Queen of the B-movies at the time, and Bisley loves to draw her...)

 Wait, what was I talking about?  I got distracted...  Ummmmmm......

-Oh, right!  The moral of the story:

Yeah- I love this comic.
It's constant crazy, violent action... and it's a fun story.  Raphael's story-arc with guns isn't even what the comic is about, it's just a part of it.  And I just wanted to talk about it here.  Because it's still weird as hell seeing an image of a Ninja Turtle with a fucking gun.

As for a little thing that made me laugh in this series? 
Well, it is always funny when The Turtles are in disguise while in public:

 Hahaha!  He looks adorable! 
Maybe THAT'S what really pushed him over the edge.

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  1. I did not know this comic existed. I knew some of these were still being put out back then, just not this one.

    I started on the animated series comic from Archie comics at the time. Good stuff for a kid back then. Nothing at all like this. Ha! Raphael goes all TAPS on goons. Cray.

    Likewise I do enjoy the weird dynamic between Casey and Raph. That seems to transcend from the movies to the comics, to the cartoon shows.

    Good post dude. Nothing but the usual excellence here.

    1. Yeah- I think this one flew under a lot of people's radar back then because of the name... I even saw a high-traffic comic-news site say that it was the comic that featured the Jim Lee redesigned Turtles.
      1.) No, it was not.
      2.) Those were action figures, and were never in a comic. -I mean, besides the one packaged with the action-figures.
      3.) It takes almost zero time to verify shit on the internet. You lazy fuckers...
      -Oh, but "there was a advertisement for those three figures on the back cover- so that's the same as the comic being about them right? I do good research!"
      Anyways... I had a few of those Archie TMNT comics too... I kind of hated them. What was up with that floating cow's head?
      I first saw the cartoon when I was down south visiting relatives... It aired there before it did up north, or something? Or maybe it was some kind of special sneak-peak?? Or some bumpkin aired it when they were not supposed to??? I just remember my brothers and I happened to turn it on mid-episode and were like "WHAT THE FUCK DID WE JUST SEE? That was AWESOME!" It was the Neutrinos episode.
      I remember trying to tell kids at school about it weeks later and they were like- "There is no such show. You're making it up."
      Then one day we were at Toy'R'Us and saw the figures: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles? "-Hey, isn't this from that weird show we saw? Holy crap, it is!" So we begged our parents to buy us each one (I got Donnie), and soon we started seeing the commercials for the premiere of the brand new cartoon. -One that we somehow saw before anyone else in Ohio did, apparently. It was pretty cool. That always made me like it just a little-bit more.

    2. ~Oh, and just in case anyone is wondering: The mini-comics that came with the three Jim Lee's TMNT figures (three because Leo was designed, but never released) were all the same interior with different covers. More on that here: http://tmntentity.blogspot.com/2011/02/savage-dragon-playmates-toy-pack-in.html

  2. Nice - I always liked Joe Casey more than the turtles. Had I been into the action figures, he woulda been first no doubt. Like Dale I read the Archie Comics series, but also grabbed the Savage Dragon/Vanguard era specials with the turtles too. Great stuff.

    Liking the art in this post too - Simon Bisley is pretty on key, but Raph looks like no cartoon character here. Pretty mean.

    1. Joe Casey? You got Uncanny X-Men on the brain!
      I have the two crossovers with The Savage Dragon, too! The Mirage mini, and when they were in The Savage Dragon title. Great stuff. Loved how they worked Vanguard into the Image series as well...
      Bisley is always awesome. -Violent and awesome.

  3. Ah yes turtles packing heat. I remember these days never knew about this issue though.love how Raph is here as we all know he "is cool but rude give me a break" I was introduced to the turtles by the first comics before the cartoon and toys came out. Man wished i still had those first printings of the magazine sized comic. $$$ . The cartoon was great only one thing irked me about. Sometimes somewhere around season 3 the voice actors would change like every ep almost. Only Mikey and April dodged this. Eps when Donny ,Leo and Raph were changed ie fucked up were frustrating,Shreadhead laughable,Bebop and Rockdstady passable.Oh but Krang oh man when his voice was changed sometimes I would be so pissed. The actor couldnt do krangs frogish croak . I hated this fill in.At this time it was treat if a ep had no voice changes . One week they would messed up the bam back to normal then bam messed up. Even though that got under skin sometimes the cartoon kicked ass . Loved seeing this post and Raph going nuts only to learn a hard lesson. Awesome turtle power.

    1. Your post made me recall i may have a issue still with a turtle shooting someone.didnt remember who. I found it and still have it. Its vol 1 issue 61 1993 and its Donny here with a broken leg who the trigger man. He machine guns a foot elite saving shredders grandaughter. He feels afull about it. I have this the one before and the one after. I think its a arc of the end of vol 1 .

    2. See, I had no idea this had happened before in Turtle comics. Thanks for the info!
      That issue goes for around $15 too!
      So you knew about them from the old comic going in? Lucky. I was only 7 or 8 when that cartoon came out... I had no clue about the original comics until around the first movie. I was one of those kids looking at the cover to the NES game going: "Why are they all in red like Raphael? This cover is a misprint! How stupid."
      I remember when Krang's voice changed- it made me mad as well... As much as I loved that cartoon back then- it does not hold up. It was very cheaply made. So much you don't notice as a kid- but, yeah... it's painful to watch now. -Especially the later episodes.
      The last Nick-Turtles episode “Wormquake!” had a great bit in it- where Cam Clarke, Rob Paulsen, Barry Gordon, and Townsend Coleman reprised their original roles as Leonardo, Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo... It was hilarious!

  4. I remember having this issue as a kid.
    Looking back on it can't help but wonder if it was meant to be satire? The art goes straight into Mask territory and the insane about of guns, blood and Ralph going nuts makes me think it was trying to be a parody of 90's comics.

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