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Tales of the TMNT #52 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: The Crystal at the Heart of the World

Investigating a worrisome shutdown of an important machine, the Turtles and Utroms find themselves on Moo Mesa, where they encounter a plot that might just be bigger than the TMNT and C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa combined can handle…

talesofthetmnt052Plot: Murphy, Brown and Laird
Script: Murphy
Thumbnails: Ryan Brown
Art: Dario Brizuela
Letters: Eric Talbot
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Back-Up Story: The Mission by: Dan Berger
Editor in Chief: Peter Laird
Managing Editor: Dan Berger
Design: Eric Talbot
Front Cover: Dario Brizuela and Steve Lavigne
Back Cover: Fernando Leon Gonzalez

The issue opens with the traditional frontispiece with one of the Turtles in cowboy getup, fixin’ to tell us a story…one that begins with the opposite of a certain cliche, as a figure on horseback in the desert rides toward us–OUT OF the sunset rather than off into it. We quickly see that it is an Utrom, who has infiltrated the place known as Moo Mesa. He shuts down a device to spark his own agenda into motion–though the shutting-down of the device draws the attention of Utroms on Earth who soon journey to Moo Mesa (with Turtles and Casey in tow) to investigate the device’s shutdown. (Re)uniting with their now “old allies”, the C.O.W.Boys of Moo Mesa, and a new (deja-vu-inspiring) ally, the immediate threat is faced, while yet a greater threat is revealed.

This is the third issue to unite the Moo Mesa crew with the Mutant Turtles crew, and I’m certainly enjoying the recurring crossover. Writer Ryan Brown has done plenty of work in the TMNT-verse, and created the C.O.W. Boys (you might remember them from a two-season animated series). It seems only natural to bring the two properties together for another go-round, and it’s done so to great effect. While perhaps part of a larger meta-arc, this issue stands alone fairly nicely–we have a good introduction bringing characters to the forefront, rising into the action, a climax, and then things settle out…both closing this story and setting up the next (due next year).

The art works very well here–visually, it has the appearance of an “animated” sort of style, without losing the feel of being its own original comic work. While I don’t know any of the C.O.W. Boys characters well enough to recognize individuals, I do notice how hard it is to tell the Turtles apart–it’s only dialog or visible weapons that allows that discernment. Still, all fits together quite well, and neither set of characters seems out-of-place in the presence of the others.
For me, the highlight of the issue is a guest-appearance by a certain transdimensional Cowlick. This has me totally chomping at the bit for the next part of this series of issues and itching for the long-promised Forever War–I actually got my hopes up that this issue would actually kick that off, but we’re left with a simple “To Be Continued in Tales of the TMNT #58…”

There’s also a two-page micro-story of no small amusement to close out the issue…which is another thing this title has going for it. As a package, we get a nice cover, an extra artist’s work on the frontispiece, a 28-paged story, a 2-page backup story, a pin-up page with another artist’s take on characters found in this issue, and a full-color image on the back-cover worthy of being a poster…with nary an ad to be found. A comic this pure to its title/self–and for the (relatively low) price point–is hard to come by, and such a real treat.

If you’re looking for decompressed, deep character-studies, you’ll probably be disappointed. Looking for a simple, old-fashioned TMNT adventure with the bonus of having the C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa along, this issue’s for you. Recommended to any TMNT fan, C.O.W. Boys fan, someone contemplating checking out “a” Turtles book, or anyone just looking for an enjoyable single-issue that packs the value in under a single cover.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Tales of the TMNT #32 [Review]

classicreviewlogowhite

Quick Rating: Very Good–Fun!
Story Title: The Eye of Aga-Moo-Tou

Summary: The TMNT and the C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa team up again to tackle the threat posed by Savanti Romero gaining access to the Eye of Aga-Moo-Tou.

talesofthetmnt032 Plot: Laird & Brown
Words: Murphy
Layouts: Ryan Brown
Pencils: Dario Brizuela
Inks: Joe Rubinstein
Letters: Eric Talbot
Editor, Creative Consultant: Peter Laird
Managing Editor: Murphy
Production, Design: Eric Talbot
Covers: (main): Dario Brizuela, (variant): Andres Ponce, Ryan Brown, Steve Lavigne
Publisher: Mirage

Despite never having been a fan of the C.O.W. Boys (I was aware of them briefly in the 90s, but never "into" them), this is great fun. We get those characters back, interacting side-by-side with the TMNT in a way that makes perfect sense in the TMNT-verse, and is just…fun.

A nearly-immortal figure locates the mystical Eye of Aga-Moo-Tou, though the Eye is also located by old TMNT villain Savanti Romero. Meanwhile, at Moo Mesa, the C.O.W. Boys are going about their regular business, when things go all wacky thanks to Romero. Back on Earth, Tsou-T’an-Jin makes contact with and transports the turtles to Moo Mesa, where they find their old friends mind-controlled/possessed by Romero, and the battle for the Eye is joined…

At its surface, this is a rather simple, stereotypical story…mega-powerful mystical artifact located by a villain, first protagonists on the scene defeated and turned on second-wave fellow heroes, yadda yadda yadda. Then again, it really isn’t much deeper than that, if you look strictly at story elements. The fun and enjoyment comes from the specific characters–here, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles AND the C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa thrust together in a single story.

The story flows, hitting key beats of structure. Not being terribly familiar with all the characters, I can’t say for certain that everyone’s in-character; the turtles seem to be right on track, so I presume the COW Boys are, too..and given that (as far as I can tell) original creators of all characters involved are…well…involved with this issue, I’ve no reason to believe this does anything but fit both sides of the "crossover" of the properties.

The art throughout is just fine, with all the characters being totally recognizable, and panels clear/clean as to what’s going on. This isn’t just some comic adaptation of a cartoon, but it’s also not one of the darker, gritter of the TMNT stories.
For jumping in cold and just wanting "a" TMNT story, this is a great issue to do so with, and it’s even kid-friendly on the whole–probably moreso than a certain teen wizard’s exploits, for point of comparison.

The great thing about this title is that it features a monthly supply of in-continuity TMNT stories by a variety of writers and artists that include stories set in the characters’ past, present, and future, as well as easily contain property crossovers like we have here. While many titles from bigger publishers might suffer from radical shifts in creative teams from issue-to-issue on writing and visuals, it’s become a sort of staple for this book.

If you can find it, I highly recommend this issue…and really, the series in general for any of you longer-time TMNT fans.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4/5

Tales of the TMNT #58 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

Story: 3/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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