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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #3 [Review]

Story: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Layouts: Kevin Eastman
Art: Dan Duncan
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Scott Dunbier
Associate Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by:IDW

I’ll talk about the “bad” here, first. This is not the TMNT that I grew up with. The characters themselves–as we’ve learned in these last couple issues–are quite different from previous iterations. For one thing, so far, we don’t even have all four turtles together as one family–three believe their ‘brother’ may not even exist, while this ‘brother’ doesn’t even know about the others or how he came to be what and where he is at present. And after half a decade of the primary TMNT book being Tales of the TMNT, a monthly series with mainly done-in-one stories, I can’t help but feel like this story is decompressed, and I’m anxious to see the turtles as a group–it seems so obvious that they’re not going to be kept apart more than perhaps this arc, so it’s easy to just want to get to that point and get on with things.

But–and this is in the face of any and all complaints listed above or not–I am loving this book on the whole. I’m still getting used to Duncan‘s art, but with the assumption that he’s going to be “the” TMNT artist long-term, it’s easy to see how I’m going to find myself embracing this vision of the turtles. Much as Lawson defined these characters for me for years on the Mirage series, I totally expect Duncan‘s will as well. I certainly hope so, anyway. There’s a sort of sketch-like quality to the art that in many cases would tend to put me off a bit, but here, it manages to–through the colors–evoke a bit of the more familiar black-and-white take on the characters. The colors are a bit muted, which lends another quality to the visuals that I like. There’s plenty of color…but the muted tones fit with the sort of muted story.

These are not super-heroes…these are mutants living in a sewer, trying to avoid detection while seeking out a lost family member. I wish I could say that Eastman‘s breakdowns were obvious to me–but I only know that work based on the issue’s credits. However, it’s cool (at least on a meta level) knowing he’s got that sort of hand in this as a part of the overall visual storytelling on this series, and lends a bit of continuity between the classic and the current.

The story itself is actually quite good–I’m really enjoying it, despite it feeling stretched and such. That, or it’s just got me that hooked and engaged that I’m eagerly awaiting each new issue, and it’s always at the top of my stack when I decide what I’m going to read first. Eastman obviously gets the characters, having co-created them. And while I’m otherwise unfamiliar with Waltz, he’s got a big part in this, too, or wouldn’t be credited as he is.

This issue opens with a several-page fight scene in which Raphael (well, we know it’s him but he doesn’t) and Casey beat on some purse-snatchers, while their banter serves to give us exposition, filling things out about the characters more rapidly than otherwise possible, given the flow of story. In their home, the other turtles finish a training session before touching off an ongoing argument amongst themselves and Splinter. A flashback further fleshes out the characters’ current origin. Finally, it seems the two groups may soon converge, as we’re left on a cliffhanger that may or may not be a bigger deal than it looks.

Oh, and just in case anyone’s wondering: there is as yet no mention of Oroku Saki, no mention of a Shredder…and to me, that’s a fantastic blast of fresh air. I’m thankful for a nemesis that is not just another re-tread of a character who was never supposed to appear beyond the original TMNT #1 27 years ago. If you’re at all interested in the TMNT–this is a great re-imagining of the characters, worthy so far of the classic work and certainly a wonderful entry point for new readers. Whether you’re steeped in TMNT mythology or brand-new, there’s plenty here for all.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 9/10

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