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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #73 [Review]

tmnt_idw_0073The Trial of Krang, Part One

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams
Cover: Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: August 2017
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s been awhile since I reviewed an issue of this series. [ Note: yeah, the last issue I reviewed was #44, back in 2015! ] And a lot has happened over these last 30 issues or so, including the apparent death of Shredder, and the book feeling a lot like a new volume of a series since then. But perhaps most significant for this issue–this is the first TMNT comic series to hit #73! The second volume of Tales of the TMNT ended at #70 back in 2010 (though apparently there was a foreign-published ~100-copies issue put out as a #71, but that’s for another post entirely), and the Archie-published TMNT Adventures ended at #72 back in 1995. The original volume of TMNT, that started everything, ended at #62 back in 1993.

Over the past six years, 73 issues of this title, numerous mini-series, several specials, and a year of a monthly companion title, we’ve had the development of probably the richest, deepest TMNT continuity to date, with this series’ creators drawing in elements from pretty much every previous iteration of the series–be that comics, cartoon, movie, and even the (as of August 2017) current animated series.

The cover itself is a bit of a celebratory thing: we see the turtles standing triumphantly, crowds of (alien) people cheering them from all around, as they stand open in the city. Granted, this is an alien city, and not Earth, but hey…it works. And on the "meta" level, the celebration is also appropriate AS celebrating this being the longest-running TMNT comic ever (at least numerically), with no signs of slowing down.

Opening the issue, we see Krang–who outside of the FCBD 2017 issue, I don’t think we’ve seen in a couple years at least–firming stuff up with an assassin, as he sits in a guarded cell awaiting his trial. Neutrinos arrive on Earth to get the turtles and Fugitoid back to Smada city, where they’re surprised to come face to face with Leatherhead! After some initial testiness, the situation is explained as to why he’s there and that they’re all on the same side…for now. The Neutrino Royal Family celebrates the turtles as heroes of the Krang War in a huge gathering that they weren’t expecting. Later, they get a smaller, more private time with them, where they learn of other problems approaching…like Maligna and her Malignoids, seeking to fill the power vacuum left without General Krang. The group is joined by Counselor Apap, who reveals how important it is for the turtles and Professor Honeycutt (the Fugitoid) to retrieve the key witnesses…without them, they don’t have nearly what’s needed to keep Krang locked away! However, Krang’s assassin Hakk-r strikes, and Apap is killed. After a skirmish with the assassin (who escapes), it becomes the turtles’ mission to seek out the witnesses, as Honeycutt must remain behind…he’s suddenly become one of the most valuable players in things himself, with Apap gone…so the turtles head off to collect the witnesses.

This issue is really, truly, things Done Right, to me! If you’d told me several years ago I’d like the Neutrinos in a modern context, I’d’ve been quite skeptical. As they are here, in this series…I quite enjoy them! I "hear" echoes of the classic cartoon iterations of the characters, but really dig this series’ reinterpretation and presentation of them…and their society. I also really like that this Krang is a much deeper character with a fleshed-out background (compared to the cartoon, anyway!) and seems much more capable, and highly dangerous…far more of a threat than "just" some recurring, bumbling villain.

Visually, while this issue’s art is by Cory Smith rather than Mateus Santolouco, it’s similar enough to avoid being jarring, and is really some beautiful stuff! Over the years, I’ve gotten very used to radically differing visual interpretations of the turtles, so that in itself rarely bothers me. Having the art so similar is a real treat, and to be singularly attractive in itself is even better!

The issue’s story is also quite a treat to me…I really like that we’re (finally!) getting back to more "familiar" territory, while pushing the overall narrative FORWARD. I often complain about repetition and titles not "letting _____ go" and such…but the way Shredder was developed, and Krang, I very much like stories with them in this iteration of the TMNT. Having had what in some ways has felt very "generic" villains/antagonists for a couple years, it’s really great to have this picking bac up on stuff that I’ve missed.

Having recently been excited at the introduction of more classic Mutanimals characters (Jagwar and Dreadmon) being introduced (reinterpreted) into current IDW continuity, I’m also very excited at the prospect of what seems to be on the immediate horizon, with a couple of very recognizable "cameos" in this issue (that I presume will be touched on at length in the TMNT: Dimension X mini-series) and an outright mention of another "classic" villain that I believe may come into play next issue, given the "Next issue" box at the end of this issue.

While this may not be an ideal "jumping on" point for someone unfamiliar with the characters, it’s definitely a great point to come back if you haven’t cared much for stuff the last couple years (since #50, for example). It’s also not a horrible point to jump in, though, even if you haven’t followed this title since its inception back in 2011 or such. There’s a lot of context, and if you don’t mind stories where you jump in and "figure things out" as you go, it’ll probably be fairly enjoyable.

And, as said earlier…this is the highest-numbered TMNT issue ever, so even symbolically, this series has now surpassed every previous run and can truly come into its own, pushing the TMNT property forward with a pedigree more than equal to everything else!


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #18 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw018Story: Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Ben Bates
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Ben Bates
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

The bulk of this issue follows the turtles on planet Neutrino in Dimension X as they assess their situation and come to an understanding with the soldiers they encountered on Earth, native to this planet. They also learn what it is the soldiers were after as they realize all has not been as it seems. Meanwhile, back on Earth Splinter, April, and Casey deal with the sudden disappearance of the turtles. By issue’s end–18 issues into this new series–the turtles are introduced to General Krang, in a must more competent iteration than the ’80s cartoon that spawned the character.

Story-wise, this continues to be a great series that–on the whole–I am thoroughly enjoying. However, I’m growing a bit weary of 4-issue arcs, despite lingering subplots (and believe me, I am extremely grateful for subplots in an age where it seems stories are “written for the trade” and to be entirely self-contained). Eastman and Waltz continue to take core elements of the numerous iterations of these characters, and weave them together into a new tapestry that is at once familiar and yet new and interesting.

I particularly recognize Neutrinos Zak and Kala, and appreciate the turtles’ interactions with them; Mikey’s characterization with the princess is familiar as well. The turtles being suddenly, unexpectedly zapped to an alien planet in the middle of a war is a familiar “broad stroke” from the original Eastman/Laird series…though new in the specific details.

Visually, I’m liking Bates‘ art–it fits the characters well, and it just “works” for me. The only real weirdness is that the Neutrinos take on a very anime-like visual effect that contrasts a bit with the more sensible look of the other characters. Pattison‘s colors lend a real sense of continuity to the multiple artists on this series so far, where the linework’s changed, the colors have been consistent and certainly ease the transition between art styles.

This series has been on a relatively slow burn, steadily introducing characters and elements to the story, playing on past stories and expectations to build a strong continuity made up of the “best of” past versions of the TMNT. I’m truly appreciating the development, that things aren’t being rushed for the sake of getting characters in (especially characters whose original versions I find rather silly and off-putting as an adult). But I am increasingly anxious to see something a bit more major happen, something to truly shake up this continuity and define the characters–I’m not sure how, exactly–but it seems that other than the all-too-frustrating $3.99 price point this continuity would be ripe for a weekly series–or multiple series effectively making for weekly glimpses into the world.

With the typical 4-issue arcs, this is the 2nd chapter of this arc; so if you can find #17 along with this,  you can jump in and probably figure out for the most part what’s what, especially if you’re fairly familiar with the turtles anyway. Alternatively if you’re waiting for the collected volumes…this is shaping up to be another good mini-arc.

On the whole…the issue is good, and definitely leaves me quite interested in getting the next issue in-hand.

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