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TMNT: Jennika #1 [Review]

tmnt_jennika_0001The Cure for You
Story, Art, Cover, Letters: Brahm Revel
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover Date: February 2020
Cover Price: $4.99

I was barely aware of Jennika as a character a year ago. In retrospect after she came to prominence about 10 months ago, I REMEMBERED the character…but in her first appearance, she was "just another character," a random face for some exposition or plot or whatever. At that time–TMNT #51–I was taking in the whole new status quo and marveling at a series firstly actually making it to #50 and secondly NOT being renumbered back to #1 to reflect the status quo shakeup and such. The "hype" and "speculation" around the issue where Jenny mutated (TMNT #95 or so) has been a frustration to me, having bought every issue of TMNT that IDW has published within the month it was released (single-issue-wise). Suddenly having "competition" just to get a "regular" issue is annoying and rather off-putting to me and detracts a fair bit from the characters and story; the "meta" imposing on the continuity and such.

That said…

This mini-series looks to be a solo focus on Jennika herself as she is adjusting to her mutant-turtle form. Though the issue carries the TMNT logo foremost and prominently, that seems basically for branding purposes, as the ONLY mutant turtle in this issue is Jennika herself–and as a mini-series and all, I’m absolutely ok with that!

We have two stories in the issue. The first/primary sees the eponymous Jennika going about her usual day in "mutant-town" when she sees someone make a break for it, leaving the area. She gives chase, concerned about a mutant putting themselves in harm’s way outside the safe zone. They soon run into the Purple Dragons and Casey Jones, giving Jennika an awkward pause, reuniting with her former would-be partner. Leaving with Vincent (the mutant rabbit she was pursuing) she’s invited to his gig, where she enjoys some nostalgia and return of the past in the indy/live music club scene. When a couple other mutants start some trouble, her ninja side kicks into gear, getting the attention of yet another mutant who she quickly recognizes as someone out of her past. History crashing into her, she is also blindsided when this mutant suggests that with her help, there might be a cure for mutants to be had. (To Be Continued…)

If you’re just checking stuff out in the TMNT books with this issue or the last several of the main title, you’ll notice that much of the action centers on this "mutant-town" full of mutants, despite much of TMNT being about four mutant turtles, their sensei/mutant rat Splinter, and a handful of other mutant allies and enemies. In the run-up to and major events of TMNT #100, events led to a mass-mutation of the populace of part of the city, and they’ve been separated off into "mutant-town," at least for present and the Mutanimals have been serving as "enforcers" keeping mutants IN, while the WORLD PROTECTION FORCE THINGY GROUP keeps mutants in from the outside. Dynamics there are unfolding as it’s a recent (end of 2019 comics) development and part of the new status quo.

The story is pretty good, and I appreciate its slice-of-life nature. It’s not specifically tied to current issues of the main title so stands alone quite well. It’s obviously rooted in the "present" of the earliest post-#100 TMNT issues time-frame of continuity, but other than basic context (above about "mutant-town") it doesn’t seem like TMNT is required reading for this, nor does this seem likely to be intrinsic to the TMNT story. This builds onto the Jennika character and likely will leave the character better fleshed-out and add depth that will be appreciable in reading the main TMNT title, while hopefully this mini will be its own whole as a story/arc.

I’m not overly keen on the art here…Revel‘s style is rather stylistic, and though I recognize the manga influence and visual shorthand for stuff (and some of it certainly comparable to the 2012 TMNT animated series) it’s not my ideal. In particular there’s a panel where Jenny is angered, and we see a comically open mouth with pointed shark’s-teeth essentially, despite the main appearance of the character being clean, even, normal-sized teeth. It works for the story, it’s not unheard of, but it’s also just not to my personal liking.

Time and Again
Story, Colors: Ronda Pattison
Art: Jodi Nishijima
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow

This second story is a small vignette that gives us another glimpse into Jennika’s past. We see her in prison, encountering and befriending a rat. When she and another prisoner escape, the rat flees from her. We also see her in an early moment with Splinter juxtaposed with a moment with another mutant in "mutant-town" as she Splinter reminded her of an old friend, and this new mutant reminded her of Splinter.

At only 4 pages, this story is nothing drawn-out or deep, but it conveys a lot, and is definitely a "slice of life" moment…and a good one at that.

I much prefer the art in this story to the main…probably because it’s a lot closer to the main art I’ve been used to for awhile, and without a side by side/immediate comparison, my mind says it’s reminiscent of Santolouco‘s art, which I love.

All in all, this is a relatively strong first issue. As something to draw in newer readers, it definitely could have used some notes to contextualize the setting ("mutant-town") and such. At the same time, as a $4.99 issue with most of a year’s hype around the character, one probably already has some of that context if one is choosing to buy this (with speculation stuff being centered on the TMNT issues).

If this was any other property than TMNT, the art in the main part of the issue (and the cover) would have seriously put me off. I bought this as I buy/read every single-issue TMNT-and-directly-related thing published by IDW, and read it for the same…and though the art is largely off-putting to me, I enjoyed the story and vignette, so it’s not a waste of my time or money, particularly as a mini-series.

I would encourage anyone interested in the character to at least consider the issue–flip through and glance at the art to see how it fits your personal tastes. As mentioned above, this does not seem essential to the main TMNT book nor vice-versa. If you’re an all-in reader of the ongoing TMNT saga, though, you’ll definitely want to get this.

I do look forward to the next issue–despite pricing. I continue to feel that I’d be rather content with 4-5 TMNT books if they were kept on a weekly cycle and didn’t "cluster" or double-up one week while leaving another week empty. There’s a LOT to dig into in the TMNT universe, as IDW has developed, expanded on, and generally incorporated aspects from a number of previous iterations of the TMNT property, creating the richest and deepest TMNT continuity yet. This continues that developing/expanding/building.

tmnt_jennika_0001_blogtrailer

IDW TMNT Collection (September 2018)

For the first time in nearly half a decade, I’ve finally pulled together the entirety of my TMNT collection (since IDW started publishing them).

tmnt_idw_collection_sept2018a

The collection doesn’t fit into a single shortbox, so I have it split between the two…and they’re not tightly-packed, so there’s room for probably another year or so’s worth in the first box, and plenty of room in the second for some adjusting to avoid over-tight packing.

tmnt_idw_collection_sept2018b

The first box (on the left) has the main series and one-shots/annuals/etc. and TMNT Universe, plus the Heroes and Villains iterations of the Micro-Series (and I’ll likely file the upcoming Macro-Series issues here as well).

The second box includes the various other mini-series, as well as the New Animated Adventures and Amazing Adventures ongoings that were based on the 2012 Nickelodeon animated series.

To the best of my knowledge–as of this post (end of September 2018), this is a full run of every "single issue" from IDW for the main/new TMNT material. (This excludes the digest-sized episode adaptation things, and the Color Classics reprints that I have in a longbox of pre-IDW TMNT stuff).

These are all "just" the "A" covers–I have a handful of variant covers that I’ve wound up with over the years (TMNT are a grudging "exception" to my rule on variants, where I’ll bend slightly on the matter). A collection including all the variants would probably be 3, 4, even 5 times this size, and absolutely beyond the scope of my own interest…which is the story side. The OCD "collector" side that I indulge is in having 1 of each issue, period.

tmnt_idw_collection_sept2018_blogtrailer

Why Variants Have Me Dropping IDW’s Sonic the Hedgehog on Principle

I knew there was something kinda fishy going on with the first issue of IDW‘s Sonic the Hedgehog. But I couldn’t quite put my finger on it.

I ended up at a second local shop in order to get the "A" cover of #1, despite thinking I had recognized the art of the cover I’d held in my hands, which was the "B" cover.

Then for #2, I was able to get the "A" cover with no problem, but again, the "B" (VARIANT) cover had seemed more familiar, and I wasn’t quite sure why, and didn’t think much about it.

sonic_a_covers_vs_advertised_covers

But then Saturday, something "clicked" and I realized what it might have been, so I opened to the back of both issues, finding the same double-page ad for the first four issues, and realized what was going on.

For the first issue, I’d specifically noticed the "Cover B" and put the issue back, despite a familiar-ish image, probably from seeing stuff about the series on Bleeding Cool or some other place online about the then-upcoming Sonic the Hedgehog #1.

For the second issue, I was able to get the cover marked as the "A" cover, and didn’t really think about it.

But the advertised covers–the double-page ad in the back of the issues, showcasing the first four weekly issues of the new series–show the "B" covers. The covers by the interior artist, which would be far more fitting as the PRIMARY, or "A" covers.

This severely bugs me, just on principle: part of the POINT of me consciously, specifically seeking out the "A" covers for any given series, IS THAT THE "A" COVER is the PRIMARY cover, the cover that is advertised, etc; and that it is the VARIANTS that come after, the B/C/D/E etc covers. And the VARIANT covers might be ALSO advertised…but generally "online" or places OTHER THAN the ads and "next issue" pages in the print edition; so if you only have the print edition to go on, there’s ONE cover image you’re looking for.

This flips that, and with NOTHING on the ad pages to indicate these are "B" covers–nor even that there are variant covers at all–I personally feel like it’s disingenuous at best. Worse still, I now feel like I have personally been "tricked" on this, AND I feel stuck with covers that ARE NOT THE ADVERTISED COVERS. I will NOT re-buy the two issues just to have the "correct" covers when I’ve already bought the other covers.

And on principle, I am DONE WITH THE SINGLE ISSUES. Just like that, cold turkey. On principle.

Maybe I’ll buy collected editions, but with IDW seemingly to RIGIDLY and PRIMARILY do 4-issue volumes–and with it being highly likely that the first volume collecting Sonic the Hedgehog will be only these first 4 weekly issues–at $17.99 or so, that’s way, Way, WAY too much for only 2 issues of (to me) "new content." And even if they do a smaller-trim volume (6"x9"?) in the $9.99-$12.99 range…that’s still too expensive for content I already have when they’ve already totally ticked me off on principle. (As opposed to me absolutely loving stuff and having a great experience with the whole thing and thus THEN being willing to simply "double dip")


So for mixing up "A" and "B" covers with what’s in print, what they "usually do," and what’s blatantly, actively advertised; for dealing in variants at all, this is a PRIME EXAMPLE of a publisher/series losing me due to variants.

Is it stupid, surfacey, petty, and "cutting off my nose to spite my face"? I’m sure many/MOST would go with THAT.

But to me, it’s stupid, surfacey, and petty of publishers to CONSTANTLY, for every single issue of every single series they ever publish, running with VARIANT covers.

And as said: when I feel like I’ve been tricked, when I feel like I’m stuck with the covers that I don’t want, and when this has resulted DESPITE my CONSCIOUS attention to detail in making sure I’ve gotten the "A" covers SPECIFICALLY…I’m far from feeling satisfied with my purchases.

And there are way too many comics out there at way too high a price for me to get everything that I’d like to, to get everything I have the slightest "interest" in, for me to be spending money on something where I’ve been manipulated or tricked, and am unhappy with what I own.

  • Is it "just a cover"? Then why does there have to be a variant?
  • Buy the cover you want? I specifically buy the "A" covers for consistency, because in recent memory, the "A" cover seems to always be the cover that is advertised. In this case, that’s flipped.
  • Change and buy the "B" cover going forward? Now that messes with my mental OCD, and consciously knowing subsequent such issues do not match/flow consistently.

I’m only one person. But I now have a negative feeling, a negative attitude toward this series; I’m jumping off 2 issues in and there’s plenty stacked against it on me picking up later volumes…and so I’m one less person to sing its praises (nostalgia or otherwise), and one more person with a negative experience.

And I am thus an example: YES, someone WILL actually, truly DROP A SERIES "just" because of the cover, "just" because of variants.

Because (like numbers) the cover does matter.

dropping_sonic_blogtrailer

TMNT Artisan Edition–Finally!

I’ve been looking forward to the TMNT Artisan Edition for a number of months now! I was looking forward to it, and thought I might’ve missed it, back in March or April, and then thought it was due out around the end of April, and it kept not being on the week’s shipping list, and on and on til now.

tmnt_artisan_edition_book

I’d eventually ended up pre-ordering it via Amazon, just to make certain I wouldn’t miss out on it, and was quite surprised recently when I got a notification that my order had been "upgraded" to get the book day-of-release, August 8th. Of course, given that it seems like most of the time anymore, Amazon gets "access" to stuff a week or two AFTER comic shops, and this is from IDW, I just "assumed" then that I’d be able to get this from a shop mid-late July, but it wasn’t.

Then this week, I find out it WILL BE in shops…this week. But my copy, from Amazon, has already arrived.

This is a huge book, and quite the attractive volume! It contains original layouts and notes and such on the original first TMNT comic, as well as the finished version, and some extra art and such (a couple original ads for the first issue and sketches and such). Not a huge quantity of material, but enough to pad this out and make it highly worthwhile, at least to me.

tmnt_artisan_edition_tmnt_shelf

As said, this is a huge book…it’s even larger than the TMNT Ultimate Collection volumes IDW put out a few years ago, and this book will not fit on the shelf with these–it’s too tall! So it’ll perhaps get some special display spot, be relegated to laying on its side on top of the books on the shelf, or perhaps I’ll move all the TMNT stuff to a shelf with a bit more space when I next reconfigure my ‘library’.

tmnt_artisan_edition_spread1_sketch

Here’s one of my favorite double-page spreads, and (to me at least) one of the most iconic images of the issue! Interesting how recognizable it is even in the sketch/layout stage…

tmnt_artisan_edition_spread1_finished

…and yet how much more detailed the finished version is! (pardon the compressed/curve in the photo, the pages didn’t want to stay quite as open).

tmnt_artisan_edition_origin_sketch

Here’s the rough layout of the origin/introduction of the turtles…

tmnt_artisan_edition_origin_finished

…and the finished.

tmnt_artisan_edition_shredder_sketch

Shredder’s introduction in rough…

tmnt_artisan_edition_shredder_finished

And flipped for the final version in more detail.

I still really dig that this original issue was only ever intended as a one-shot thing, and that Shredder–the real, actual, not-a-clone/etc Shredder–had his first and last appearance in present-day here.

At the same time, I have come to really dig the IDW Shredder across a 50-issue run and appreciate that sort of longevity to that version of the character. But that’s a post for another time.

tmnt_artisan_edition_book_and_tmnt73

Here’s the book next to the latest issue of IDW‘s run. Fitting…a version of the original issue, with what is now the highest-numbered-ever TMNT issue. 1984 – 2017 and still going!

Classic GI Joe TPBs And Half-Price Books Complaining

weekend_august19_gijoe_01Back in 2001, a friend of mine had been talking to me about GI Joe–toys, comics, etc. And then more strikingly, and as has stuck with me for the last 15 years or so–I remember his commenting on the release date of a new comic series: Devil’s Due published their then-new GI Joe comic on September 12th, 2001. One day after 9/11.

Several years later, he and I went to a signing at his local shop with Michael Turner. Along with the an Identity Crisis issue, poster, and something else…I bought the Marvel GI Joe vol. 1 paperback, reprinting the first 10 issues of that original series.

I never did get the rest of that 5-volume series, that had reprinted just under 1/3 of the core/main ongoing series.

Skip ahead a few years to IDW…they got the new license, and apparently the rights to any/all prior-published GI Joe comics (Marvel and Devil’s Due), so they followed the Marvel format and reprinted the classic series in 10-issue volumes. Somewhere along the way, I wound up with the IDW edition of the first volume, and then the second. (I keep that original Marvel one for the sentimental value, but have a definite desire to get the entirety of the run of the classic volumes.) The Classic GI Joe run is all the more appealing to me as I recently discovered that IDW is (wisely and awesomely, I might add!) re-collecting their own GI Joe: A Real American Hero run into subsequently-numbered volumes. The ARAH series had a "zero issue" as a Free Comic Book Day #155 1/2 a number of years ago, and then picked up with the original Marvel numbering at #156 and continues (I believe) to this day, somewhere in the #220s.

[A 15+ YEAR publishing gap, and they STARTED the series–that would have had every right and been completely, entirely legitimately in-bounds to begin with #1–at #156. And it’s done well enough at least to go at least 60 issues now!]

The other day, despite being a lot tighter with my finances lately, I found a number of the IDW Classic GI Joe volumes and snagged them–I know I intend to get them, and when else am I going to find a bunch at the same place/same time for 50% off?

weekend_august19_gijoe_02

While they had 5 volumes (3-7) I noticed a nasty tear in the outer spine of the 7th volume that would be glaringly obvious (to me, at least) on the shelf, not reasonably repairable, and certainly not at all worth my time/hassle for the higher price (seems the first 6 volumes were $19.99 before jumping to $24.99 for 7+).

Still, already having the first two, even "only" getting the four volumes at half-off cover (surprisingly, as I honestly do not know if these–or these specific printings–are still considered "in print" or not) made for a fantastic deal, especially balanced against the notion that each volume has 10 issues, and 10 contemporary Marvel comics would be what I paid for 40 issues’ content across these four volumes.

Unfortunately, I discovered a bit of a surprise Sunday night when I went to peel the price stickers off.

weekend_august19_gijoe_03

Usually, Half-Price Books has these stickers that–like many bookstores–adhere reliably to the book covers…but unlike cheapo retail/grocery store price tags, the bookstores’ tags are generally of some material/stickiness that can be peeled off easily, simply, and cleanly, leaving no residue, stickiness or other damage/marking behind.

However, under the "new" HPB stickers, I found horrible residue from what seems to be an older HPB sticker. At first glance, I thought maybe (just maybe) I had done a bad peel, ripping it off way faster than necessary. But no, examining what was left behind, it most definitely was not from the sticker that I myself had peeled off.

weekend_august19_gijoe_04

The sticker I peeled off is still clean and–aside from "curling," undamaged. The bad-sticker underneath is peeled/torn in such a way that I feel rather justified "assuming" any one of several things:

  • Someone screwed up with sticker stock that was used, and after attempting to peel it off, realized it couldn’t simply be done and so just covered it up with the new sticker
  • Someone screwed up the price, and after ripping off the old sticker simply put a new one over with no regard that as something that could well be in their "collectibles stock," someone might actually care about un-removable bad-sticker residue in buying or not buying the books
  • Someone bought these from HPB sometime ago, gave up attempting to remove the original sticker, so what’s there was just left there, and when it was sold back to HPB, they just put new stickers over the old (again, covering up what can significantly forfeit true VALUE to many people in the CONDITION of a book)

My primary peeve, personally, in this case is that the bad-sticker stuff was COVERED UP. I had no clue of it until after I got the books home–it’s NOT like I peel price stickers off a book AT THE STORE or anything. Buying used, or second-hand, or whatever–I have a much higher tolerance for condition of the book…but it tends to greatly bother me on pricing. If "expected price" is 1/2-off cover price and most stuff is in pretty good condition…when something is noticeably damaged, I’d be inclined to think that justifies a modified-downward price…such as on what they seem to deem as so worthy of being "collectible materials." If it’s so "collectible" and they’re such experts to deal in wildly-varied values of stuff, surely they should also attend to issues like huge patches of shredded/leftover stickers/sticker residue.

That said, while I am highly frustrated at the scraping I had to do to "mostly" remove the residue…I’m still very glad I was able to get these 4 books for half-cover-price each, making them extremely reasonably priced…and bringing me up to about the 1/3 mark for having the entire series of Classic GI Joe.

weekend_august19_gijoe_05

Above: including this purchase, my "GI Joe Library."


Along with my specific complaints about the GI Joe volumes…the Half-Price Books location I found them at was one I haven’t been to in about 6 months, so I was quite shocked when I checked their "regular comics" section out of curiosity, given the two locations closer to where I live have the "all are $1 unless marked" and "all are now 25 (50? I can’t remember) cents unless marked."

This one has them as $2 unless marked–and with marked prices generally being at least $2 if not more (with $10, $15, $25 marked, and some color photocopies/printouts put as proxies in the bins with the actual issues held behind the counter for $25+ issues).

The issues that would be $2? Mainly stuff that I would deem–at best–$1 bin fodder at an actual comic shop.

hpb_too_expensive_comics_01

Meanwhile, checking for some joy in the "clearance" endcap yielded its own shock: clearance comics were all price-stickered as $1.00!

To say that I was appalled would be an understatement…so much so that I tweeted out the above photo with my frustration the other day!

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But getting into all this has led me to what is likely the topic for an entire post on its own.

The Weekly Haul – Week of May 25th, 2016

This is it–the week I’ve been looking forward to for awhile, at least a couple months!

weekly_haul_week_of_20160525a

While I was disappointed to learn that–as I’d expected–Superman: Lois and Clark was NOT going to be some long-running ongoing series…the title’s got a darned good reason to not be continuing, as its purpose is basically ceded to the main titles.

And we have the final chapter of The Final Days of Superman in the final issue of the New 52 iteration OF the Superman title. This is the eighth chapter, that I want to say I’ve followed weekly now since at least the second chapter–I don’t recall if I had to wait a week to get the 2nd or if both were already out or not when I “gave in” on the Superman #50s.

Most importantly, though, we have DC Universe: Rebirth #1, a supposedly-80-page issue for $2.99. (What they neglect to advertise is that those pages include house ads for titles that begin showing up next week or so…there are only 68 STORY pages of actual content. Though I’ll certainly be drowned out in the general internet hubbub, I’ll touch on the three issues (primarily Rebirth) with tomorrow’s post.

weekly_haul_week_of_20160525b

The second issue of the new Aliens series is out (I guess it HAS been a month already!), as well as the 25th issue of Letter 44, which though I’m way behind in reading I’ve been following since the bargain-priced $1 premiere issue grabbed my attention a couple years ago. IDW gets in on the action of self-promoting the top __ books everyone should buy from _____ (insert publisher. In this case, IDW!)

And doing what I hate, and giving me possibly my first big regret to the “standing TMNT order” for the pull list, IDW put out not only two issues of the TMNT line the same week instead of spacing them out, but two issues of the SAME TITLE, one being a totally ridiculous $5.99 ($6! What kid’s gonna drop $6 on this cartoon-based comic with some arbitrary sports star?!?) For TMNT Amazing Adventures, that makes this a $10 week!

weekly_haul_week_of_20160525c

I swung by the other shop I sometimes get to, and ended up hitting the $1 bins…scoring several issues of Spawn that I don’t think I have…though the cover to #16 gives me serious déjà vu (making me think it’s 1. an image used on the cover of Wizard back in the day, 2. an issue I already have, and/or 3. an iconic image that stuck in my mind over the years from an ad [probably in Wizard if so!]). As I’m settling in with current issues and actually getting to enjoy them a bit and seeing more potential on the series, I’m increasingly interested in back issues, and kinda curious at how hard it would be for me to put together a run of the title.

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I also scored a couple other issues, as well as some “ephemera” (I love that word, perfectly describes a lotta the random crap I saved over the years. “Legitimizes” it and all that!).

The original first issue of the first mini-series of Savage Dragon, as well as a one-shot (or at least, just one issue here) continuing the Solar, Man of the Atom property back in the Acclaim days.

Ephemera-wise, there’s a promotional 75-cent Incredible Hulk ashcan; a Spawn comic originally packaged with one of the earlier action figures from McFarlane…and a Now Comics news-zine thing of some sort that piqued my curiosity enough to snag for 25 cents (though with Real Life going on right now, I haven’t a clue when I’ll get around to digging into it).

No collected volumes this week, no pending orders, etc… I’m burning out a bit from the stream of recent-ish purchases…and looking at a month of a crapload of DC titles.

That the DC books are gonna be $2.99 is SUCH a huge refresher, given the wealth of $3.99 stuff out there. Even stuff double-shipped that winds up costing $5.98/mo would be 40 content pages and is two issues rather than 2/3 of that for a single issue.

Surely much more discussion on that angle of topics soon.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtles_deviations0001Deviations

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Zach Howard
Additional Art: Cory Smith
Ink Assist: Joylon Yates
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams
Cover: Zach Howard
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: March 2016
Cover Price: $4.99

Aside from the price, I’ve enjoyed these Deviations issues (having read the Ghostbusters and the GI Joe issues prior to this one). My most obvious comparison to describe the Deviations designation is that these are IDW‘s version of the classic Marvel series What If..? That is, a key story point is chosen, an an alternative outcome is explored. For obvious reasons, IDW phrases it In a World… Where _______ happened! instead of What If… _______ happened?, but the result is functionally the same. This issue (as with the other four one-shots) carry a hefty $4.99 cover price…hefty in general, though admittedly not drastically beyond the standard $3.99 price point of regular-sized issues.

In a world where the turtles join Shredder, we find a hunted Splinter struggling to survive against his sons, who have been fully brainwashed into Shredder’s control and the world of the Foot. Old Hob is brought into things–the turtles getting Splinter’s location from him–and then the confrontation. The turtles capture Splinter, and present him to Shredder. Total victory nears for Shredder–the turtles have defeated rival gangs, brought Splinter (Hamato Yoshi) to him, and he is at the height of his modern power…and then things crumble. Splinter is not unprepared and–along with Hob and (separately) a revenge-bent Hun (father of Casey Jones, who in this continuity was KILLED by Shredder)–battle is joined, with results rather different from “actual continuity,” establishing a new status quo for this world while leaving us as readers to wonder where things might go from here.

While the Ghostbusters issue I read pivots on the original film’s story, and the GI Joe one is more of a generalized thing…this TMNT issue pivots on a specific event within current IDW Comics continuity, specifically the inciting bit of the City Fall arc…where Casey Jones was stabbed (but survived) in this issue, he died; and where Shredder gained control of only Leonardo, here he got all four of the turtles. As with the rest of the TMNT issues, this one involves multiple folks for the story, Waltz for the actual script, and mostly familiar art credits. Howard‘s art fits my memory of City Fall in that while this has its own style visually, it’s not any sort of jarring contrast to Santolouco‘s art. As such, and having followed the IDW series from its start through present I feel more “aware” of stuff with this story and like this is a perfect fit for my expectation of the Deviations books.

The story itself works and feels very much like any given issue of the ongoing series, and the art–as mentioned above–fit very well, making for an all around attractive package and enjoyable read. My chief nitpick with this issue is that it is too short and I’m not a fan of paying more for the sort of backmatter included in this issue, artificially inflating the feel of its size.  We have 24 story pages, and then 6 pages of The Anatomy of a Page where we see plot, script, layout/pencils, inks, colors, and lettering in progression.

I would very much enjoy seeing more exploration of this alternate timeline or even exploration of other alternative outcomes. A world where Raphael never reunited with his brothers. A world where the turtles failed to stop General Krang. A world where the turtles were too late to save Donatello. Etc. To me, this sort of thing would be great for some mini-series…four issues would allow more room than one and would provide for companion volumes to existing TMNT collected volumes. And if a creative team really got involved or an alternate take really hit with fans, it could be revisited multiple times and expand the alternate world.

I’d love to say I recommend this to “anyone,” as it IS a one-shot and thus not like one has to invest in multiple issues…but this really seems more like a treat for the longer-time fans. To really appreciate the story, one would have to have read City Fall…otherwise this is just some generic issue with bad turtles working for Shredder. That this hinges on City Fall inherently allows for a lot more context (the first 20-some issues of the series). Certainly recommended for anyone who has followed IDW‘s ongoing TMNT series at any length or at least enjoyed the first few volumes and City Fall. The $4.99 is steep even for the “extra” pages…but it IS a one-shot, cheaper than the 2012 and 2014 Annuals, and the paper stock is sturdy so it at least feels like a much better quality (physically) than many $3.99 books.

Uncle Scrooge (IDW) #1

unclescroogeidw001Editor: Sarah Gaydos
Interior Designer: Paul Hornschemeier
Archival Editor: David Gerstein
Cover: Giorgio Cavazzano
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: April 2015
Cover Price: $3.99 (48 pages)

Gigabeagle: King of the Robot Robbers

Writer: Rodolfo Cimino
Artist: Romano Scarpa
Inker: Giorgio Cavazzano
Colorist: Digikore Studios
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Translation and Dialogue: Jonathan H. Gray

This first feature goes with the cover, making it seem like the "core" of the issue. We find Scrooge going a bit crazy with stress and come to find out he’s stressing out over the fact that the Beagle Boys haven’t attacked his famous Money Bin in quite some time…which means they’ve gotta be up to SOMETHING. Turns out that what they’re up to is building a giant robotic Beagle Boy, that can physically TAKE the Money Bin…and take it the thing does, bypassing a ring of mines the ducks have put out to stop intrusion. Unfortunately for the Beagles, the AI malfunctions which leads to a tidy-ish ending of the story for Scrooge.

Given this is a new story I’d never read, it was interesting in itself. It’s been years since I’ve read anything Uncle Scrooge or Disney Ducks, so I was just happy to get a new (to me) story without going outta my way. As a story, though, it seemed rather ludicrous and in many ways far too "simple"…there also seemed to be something a bit "off" to the characters (something I can’t QUITE put my finger on). It’s possible I’ve just had years to build up expectation and for the likes of Don Rosa‘s Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck to settle in my head as an incredibly high standard.

The art is spot-on, though…characters looking perfectly familiar and sound quality.

Pure Viewing Satisfaction

Writer: Alberto Savini
Artist and Inker: Andrea Freccero
Colorist: Disney Italia with David Gorstein
Letterer: Tom B. Long
Translation and Dialogue: David Gerstein

I was surprised at the brevity of this feature. We basically see Scrooge sitting, staring at a new tv…and to summarize beyond that is to give away the "punchline" of the short. It’s amusing enough, fits the generic sense of Scrooge…though it felt odd to see Scrooge and a TV together…somehow I’m more used to (if only due to personal faulty memory) Scrooge and radios or such.

While I appreciate the short as a short, it’s nothing special and kinda seems like filler…yet it still works for me, at least visually. It seems a bit extreme and petty as a story…more like a fleshed-out anecdote than anything else…something a character might comment on in passing about Scrooge than something I’d care to actually see on-panel.

Still…it’s just a single page, a "gag strip," and actual content whose page otherwise could have been some sort of ad, so I’ll take it.

Tinker, Tailor, Scrooge and Sly

Writer: Romano Scarpa, Luca Boschi
Artist: Romano Scarpa
Inker: Sandro Del Conte
Colorist: Disney Italia with Digikore Studios
Letterer: Tom B. LOng
Translation: David Gerstein
Dialogue: Joe Torcivia

This second feature is a welcome element to the issue. When someone steals Scrooge’s jacket, he’s thrust into an adventure unbeknownst 10 years in the making. Seems that 10 years earlier, Scrooge had the thing in to a tailor to be repaired, but the tailor hid a map to a treasure in the lining to smuggle it out from under authorities. After twice rescuing his coat from the would-be thief, he takes it to a tailor in town to repair. Knowing she has a crush on him, he works the angle to get the work done for free…though  he doesn’t get to keep the treasure-find to himself.

The art on this story matches the first (which makes sense stylistically and in being the same artist!). Nothing to gripe about there.

There was something more familiar to this story that worked better for me…perhaps because it "felt" like it could be at home as a DuckTales episode or some such. I might’ve preferred this story as the lead, but its presence in the issue is welcome none the less and definitely worth the read.

Overall

I’d have to go back to revisit the Boom! Studios-published stuff from a few years ago but I don’t remember those issues being quite this thick. Getting two "feature length" stories and a "gag strip"/one-page short as a third thing is quite welcome. The lead is 28 pages, and the second feature is 15 pages…44 pages of content including the single-page piece!

And we get numerous panels per page with plenty of dialogue and such throughout so this is NOT a quick read the way many other comics are with half, full, and double-page splashes and pages of near "silence" to be sped through with no text to slow things down.

Combine those factors and you have one of the most fun comics out there for the $3.99 price point. That’s double (or MORE) the content of MOST $3.99 books.

My core complaint about this tends to be my usual: those doggone VARIANT covers. Given the issue is (as I understand) functionally "just" translated/reprint material previously published outside the U.S….throw a couple full-page images/"pinups" in the issue, use ’em as a watermark on the inside cover(s), put one on the back cover…but…enough with the perpetual variants already!

This issue is technically numbered #1 (405) as IDW is looking inconsistent–wanting to publish its OWN Uncle Scrooge #1, yet appease fans of the "legacy" numbering by doing this dual-numbering (yet, I believe they are simply going with the classic numbering for the forthcoming Walt Disney’s Comics and Stories title…so why they couldn’t simply preserve the "legacy" numbering on this as well is beyond me (and even if they numbered this #405 they could STILL have plastered a big #1 or 1st Issue or such on the thing… or gone with #405 (1) to track their own numbering within the "classic legacy" of the Disney books.

The Duck Books are fun, classic fare. Like Archie comics, they may look like they’re "just for kids" or juvenile, but they hold so much potential and there are some great bits, certainly quite enjoyable for an adult…particularly for the bit of nostalgia.

I’m assuming the pagecount is going to be "standard" for this series, and especially if it holds on that, you really won’t find much out there more fun and more worthy of a $3.99 price point.

TMNT: Turtles in Time #4 [Review]

tmntturtlesintime004Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Dan Duncan
Colorist: Ronda Pattison
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: David Petersen
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

I didn’t pay attention to the issue’s credits when I started reading, but there was something familiar to the visuals. As it should be–with art by IDW‘s first regular TMNT artist, Dan Duncan. While Duncan‘s art grew on me after a bit, it did seem a bit clunky here, not being as used to it. Still, it worked quite well for the issue.

I feel like I hardly remember details from previous issues (just the general sense of the story, having read them in month-apart segments), but just knowing the turtles have been time-hopping was enough for me for this issue’s story. We find the turtles some years in the future, in what used to be Manhattan. The brothers are surprised at the lack of alarm to their appearance walking in open daylight…until they learn the entire island is hostile territory for mutant turtles of the ninja variety. Escaping to the sewers they find a potentially paradox-inducing ally, as well as a new fight in this time…but this one is of their choosing, rather than allowing Renet to simply send them home. And by the end of the story, one of the turtles is left wondering about the present in light of the future they’d just witnessed.

Even without the 2014 Annual or the previous 3 issues of this series, I quite enjoyed this issue. There’s a definite history not only of time travel in general with the turtles, but with future versions of the turtles themselves. Fondly recalling the various “future turtles” stories in the old TMNT Adventures series from Archie, I was drawn in all the more and looking at details here than I might have otherwise been. One panel alone suggests that the world’s been divided up between the Foot, Krang, and Baxter Stockman (apparently recognized as a Fly).

The only real drawback to this series–and this might just be the immediacy of this issue–is that off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything all that poignant from the previous issues to carry back into the main continuity, while this issue has some key stuff that would be great to see carried over. In a way, I’d even say this issue could (in tandem with the Annual) be read by itself, just knowing that the turtles had bounced around through several time periods before landing here.

As this is definitely a side story, I’m glad it didn’t interrupt the “flow” of the main series. But given this is the concluding issue of a 4-part mini series, unless you’re following this one specifically or single issues in general, I’d say you’re about as well off waiting for the collected volume as trying to track down the previous issues. At the same time, if you read the 2014 Annual, you should be able to dive into this issue without much problem, even without the first 3.

All told, I enjoyed the issue, and to me, that’s the main thing.

From the Archive: TMNT (IDW) Reviews

It’s interesting (to me, at least) to look back and consider how many full reviews I’ve written of IDW‘s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series to date.

tmnt(idw)001bannerwraparound

Offhand, I believe we’ve had:

  • 37 issues of the main series;
  • 16 issues of Micro-Series (8 heroes, 8 villains);
  • 4 issues of The Secret History of the Foot Clan;
  • 3 issues of The Utrom Empire;
  • 2 issues of Infestation 2: TMNT;
  • Annuals 2012 & 2014;
  • 30th Anniversary Special;
  • 3 (of 4) issues of Turtles in Time

That’s 68 issues of new story content in this current continuity…which certainly is not bad for “only” 3 years (averages to about 23 issues per year, or roughly 2 per month).

Of these 68-ish so far, I’ve reviewed 28 of them…not quite half.

So presented below are links to all of my IDW-specific TMNT reviews as of the start of September 2014.

Main Series:

Heroes Micro-Series:

Villains Micro-Series:

Misc:

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