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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

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!

tmnt_idw_0073_blogtrailer

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.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #44 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw044Attack on Technodrome (part four)

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Cover: Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s been a few months since I’ve covered an issue of this title–I think it was the end of the previous arc. Here we are at the end of the next arc–already! Though we’ve had Krang since the earliest issues, this arc and issue is where the “long arc” of stuff pays off.

The Leo, Raph, and Mikey tangle with some of Baxter’s flyborgs, before the scientist recalls them to make his escape…which leaves them free to get the mousers away from the Fugitoid…though this does not go over well with Krang. Meanwhile, Bebop and Rocksteady have been ordered to kill Donatello, and take great pleasure taking on the turtle and Metalhead. While the other turtles face Krang directly, Splinter is aided against Karai by Alopex and Nobody. Back on Burnow Island, Shredder’s mutants fail to help him, and escape…not realizing Baxter has designs on an alliance with their (probably now former) master. The turtles and Fugitoid end Krang’s plans for the Earth though they’re unable to prevent the island from being terraformed. The legacy of their battle is a space on Earth that can be a haven to surviving Utroms. While Honeycutt returns to Dimension X to see Krang answers for his crimes…the turtles return home to find that everyone was too late to save their brother.

Even long as the above summary is…it hardly does justice to the feeling I had reading this issue. I was expecting something big–I may have seen something hinting at a major event, or might’ve just felt like there’d “have to” be something big given all the “buildup” to the Technodrome activating and that it’d be a letdown if “all” that happened was that the turtles defeated Krang with no other lasting repercussions.

The art and writing together made for quite a scene between Bebop and Rocksteady vs. Donatello…and I honestly felt a bit sick reading it, at seeing Donnie take such an outright beating from the two. Gone are the overblown words and threats and no-one-actually-gets-hurt notion of the turtles facing the supposedly-dangerous lunkheads as we got throughout the ’80s/’90s animated series. Here, as I turned the pages I had a mental flash to Batman: A Death in the Family…exacerbated by the panel of Rocksteady’s hammer-swing quite looking like a crowbar. And though we don’t get detail, we get enough–the crack and crunch on the shell, and my realizion that I’d just been contemplating before that I’d never really read any TMNT story with any of the turtles truly having their shell damaged. They’ll be shown with scratches or cuts and such but the shell is generally shown deflecting a sword blade or some other object…but they’re not superhuman or invulnerable.

And we’re shown just enough to SEE that yeah…this is bad. VERY bad. Of course, that itself is made worse by the two talking over what they’d just done, remarking on the damage and what it looks like…definitely solidifying that it wasn’t just some “visual sound effect” and not just some visual angle.

And the end of the issue certainly suggests that the turtle family has been truly reduced by one…and yet no one comes out and says the “d-word” here, and I’m reminded of a key scene in the original Eastman/Laird series when Leo’d been horribly beaten by the foot and his near-lifeless body thrown through a window to the floor amidst the rest of the turtles. While mentally processing as I read the rest of the issue, I’d also thought immediately of the Image TMNT series, in which Donatello wound up a cyborg after a horrific accident all but killed him…the specifics remain a blind spot in my TMNT knowledge but given how much this series has drawn from prior incarnations of the property, I certainly have some expectation of where things can go from here…it’ll be the details and pace that are gonna hold my attention in a big way.

The immediacy of the issue–it’s the current issue as of this writing; it just came out this week; there’ve been no other new TMNT issues SINCE–certainly lends to a sense of importance by itself. Yet, I do truly think that in the long run, this may well be a key, defining issue in the series as well as moment for all the characters…something that’ll be referenced and relevant and to some degree inform the heart of the characters and the series for a good long time.

There’s not much “context” given, this is the fourth chapter of a four-part story, so it’s not particularly a jumping-on point. I certainly recommend the series, whether you backtrack to #41 and the start of this arc or pick up the entire series in collected format. Though I hurt for the characters, look forward to seeing how they get through, this remains one of my favorite comics being published currently by any company, and just about the longest I’ve kept up with any single series consistently on a monthly basis for such an extended time since the late-1990s.

While not the foundation/building blocks of the property, in terms of story quality, development, longevity, consistency, and quality…this is probably my favorite TMNT series, period…and after this issue I am all the more eager to see what comes, and even at the $3.99 price point, would likely enjoy weekly issues as long as the quality was maintained.

[ “The Scene” behind the cut. ]


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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #40 [Review]

TMNT (IDW) #40 coverStory: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

This issue gives us a brawl between Bebop & Rocksteady and the Turtles & Mutanimals, as well as Casey bonding with April’s father. All but three pages are the brawl, and while I normally wouldn’t consider myself a fan of all-fight issues (or issues this CLOSE to being “all-fight”), there’s enough characterization within the context of the brawl that I enjoyed it.

I’m getting a definite (nostalgic, perhaps) sense of Alopex as a stand-in for Ninjara, though “stand-in” may not be quite the wording I’m seeking. At the very least, seeing the way this current IDW TMNT continuity draws from seemingly “everything” that’s come before, I can’t imagine there’s not some influence from the Raph/Ninjara stuff (from the Archie TMNT Adventures) being drawn from in the current Raph/Alopex stuff.

I definitely appreciate the threat posed by this version of Rocksteady and Bebop–while they maintain the “dumb grunts” status that seems to have kept them so popular through the years, here they’re shown as the danger they really ought to–and can–be. They’re actually scary, and not ones that can be tricked into a cage or into knocking themselves out running into each other, etc (pick a random episode of the classic cartoon and how the turtles got out of being killed by ’em).

Amidst the brawl, we still get “moments” between various characters–Nobody and Alopex, Alopex and Raph, Splinter and Mondo Gecko, Mikey and Slash, etc. We see that these characters have more going on than just the brawl itself. Instead of paper-thin plot points we see how the battle is affecting the characters, and the various alliances…I just see a lot more “complexity” on display here than, say, in the classic TMNT cartoon or the comics adapting episodes of said cartoon. I also continue to LIKE the story-team of Eastman, Curnow, and Waltz over a single writer: I’m thoroughly enjoying this series, and attribute that to the team aspect and presumably more ideas being worked in and “tempered by committee” than we’d get following a single vision.

I also continue to REALLY enjoy Santolouco‘s art on this title. This look for the characters works very well to me and (perhaps for its immediacy) is probably my favorite contemporary look–especially for the overall consistency of the past number of issues.

The cover is a bit misleading and doesn’t really seem to indicate the issue’s story, but I have to admit it looks good in and of itself. I did have to look closer in the shop to make sure it wasn’t a variant, as it struck me as the sort of image that might be on a variant rather than this particular issue.

As the 40th issue, this series is getting “up there” in numbers–it’s hard to believe I started out and have kept up month to month with this title for forty issues now…but I look forward to this (ideally) making it to at least twice this number and perhaps the highest-numbered ongoing TMNT book ever in the 30+ year history of the property.

Also as the 40th issue, it’s another “divisible-by-4” number, which means “technically” the end of another arc based on the standard 4-issue collected volumes IDW insists on. Which means you’re probably better off holding for the collected volumes and jump in on the NEXT issue, or simply jumping in on #41 for the “start” of a new arc. But, following the single issues, certainly nothing to this that turns me off or seems like an issue worth skipping.

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.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #37 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw037Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Cory Smith
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

This is easily one of my favorite issues of the series so far…yet it’s not exactly one that would stand alone entirely as an introduction to the book. The fact that it deals deeply in established continuity, bridging the previous arc(s) and leading into the next is a huge strength for the issue.

When I first saw this cover (I get the “A” covers as a matter of principle) I almost grinned. Shredder and Krang facing each other as if an uneasy alliance or entering an alliance, with the under-construction Deathsta…er…Technodrome in the background? This could easily be a poster, and one I would frame and hang if I had it. So to say that the cover caught my attention in and of itself is an apt bit to note in an age of generic interchangeable covers and variants.

The interior art is similarly eye-catching, which makes sense–Cory Smith provides the interiors as well as the “A” cover. The characters’ appearances all look very good, fit established appearances from other artists, and on the whole I just can’t find anything disconcerting or off-putting that drew me out of the story or any negative reaction. I’m not typically an art-focused reader, but to put it simply: I really enjoyed the visuals to this issue.

The story opens on Shredder and Krang and immediately had me curious what they’d be up to in this issue, and half-wondering if it’d be a “talky” issue. We then shift to see what Alopex is up to, with Kitsune, and see that there’s definitely something building there. The story returns to Shredder and Krang’s conference, which doesn’t get either very far before violence breaks out and it becomes quickly apparent that the two will be at odds with each other even while having a common foe in the turtles.

This was indeed a bit of a “talky” issue…though moreso, it was Shredder vs. Krang (with a bit of Shredder’s goons vs. Krang’s goons thrown in for good measure). From the characters’ exchange I’ve realized I definitely–as I’ve somewhat suspected for awhile–missed an issue of the Utrom Empire series somehow. I found myself rather engaged throughout the issue, enjoying it immensely and wishing it wasn’t quickly drawing to a conclusion.

That the story credits three creators is something that I think has made this series extremely enjoyable for me: Eastman as original co-creator of the property, and three years in Curnow and Waltz have certainly established themselves. As a team they’re providing stories and character moments and concepts that have made IDW‘s TMNT continuity possibly the most well-rounded and pretty much my favorite of the myriad TMNT continuities out there.

There’s a definite nostalgia factor for me with Alopex–I’d initially thought she’d be a stand-in for the Ninjara character that appeared in the ’90s TMNT Adventures series…though that could yet be, just (like everything else with IDW‘s continuity) developing a bit slower and with more detail as we go along. I also far prefer this version of Krang to any other version, much as I prefer the comics Cobra Commander to the GI Joe cartoons’ version(s) of the character.

Koya and Bludgeon also remind me of TMNT Adventures characters–Koya of a character whose name I don’t recall offhand, and Bludgeon of the time-travelling shark Armaggon…whether or not these current characters have any bases visually or otherwise on the classic characters doesn’t much matter as I simply enjoyed seeing these, and have the freedom to “hope” there’s some sort of tie.

While I wouldn’t really recommend using this issue as a cold jumping-on point, it’s a strong done-in-one “interlude” that carries itself while bridging arcs and reminding readers of what’s come before that presumably will come into play in the next arc. If you’re a fan of Shredder and/or Krang this isn’t a bad issue, either, even if you’ve been away for an arc or few. 

(However, if you’re looking for the turtles themselves? They don’t appear in this issue’s story. And I’m more than fine with that–the conflict with Shredder and Krang was so engaging that as I read, I was hoping this’d be the case so as to not steal page-time away from the villains.)

As much as ANY comic is these days, this is definitely worth its cover price for the read, particularly as an ongoing reader of the series/continuity. Highly recommended.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #34 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw034Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Mateus Santolouco
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

While heading to Harold’s lab to seek his assistance, Donnie and April run across Casey and Angel. Angel accompanies the duo to the lab, while Casey heads off on his own, still dealing with recent events. Harold’s been busy, and whatever his intentions with a security robot, the thing predictably-ish loses control, forcing the turtle and his human allies into combat…which leads to the introduction of another familiar name to this series. Meanwhile, Leonardo and Splinter discuss priorities, and we leave off with the latest development with a couple of uneasy allies.

Story-wise, not a whole lot to say for this issue. This definitely feels like a developmental issue…not really “treading water” or anything, but definitely <b>A</b> “middle chapter” of a middle chapter, so to speak. We do get some good development in Harold’s place in things, though that sort of adds to this middle sense–after City Fall and the quieter Northampton, this issue (and arc) feels like it’s more laying the groundwork for a coming showdown with Krang and his Technodrome.

We have the introduction of a familiar turtle robot, which is ok–I’m not a particular fan overall, though I’ve owned the action figures and not had a terrible problem with the cartoon episodes. This take on the thing put me in mind of the current animated series’ version…perhaps simply because that’s the most recent I’ve seen. Whatever my feelings about the use of the character (which works well even if I’m not the biggest fan)…I really like the visual!

Which leads to the issue’s art: I continue to really dig Santolouco‘s visual style with these characters! As I’ve probably said previously, I don’t care for April’s hair style of late, but that isn’t necessarily a comment on the art as much as one guy’s preferences. The visual take Santolouco brings to the book is enjoyable, and a bit different (moreso for the turtles), but has come to be another favorite of mine.

All in all, another quite solid issue of a series that–nearly three years in–continues to have me looking forward to each new issue, and marveling at the excellent blend of all the previous iterations of the TMNT that this brings to the fore: a sort of mash-up, taking the best of all the past and giving us this present continuity…a continuity that I’m coming to regard as a favorite in itself.

Given IDW’s short 4-issue arcs / 4-issue-TPB pattern, this is the 2nd chapter of 4, so not in itself a jumping on point, though still a strong “episode” in itself, worthy of reading for a casual fan–particularly one of Donatello–if not essential.

I enjoyed the read; the look of Metalhead, and exclaimed out loud at the recognition of Nobody.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #30 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw030Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Ross Campbell
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Ross Campbell
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

This issue turned out to be somewhat like I expected based on the cover image, even though I hadn’t really thought too much about what its content would actually be. Recovering from their encounter with Shredder in Cityfall, our heroes are hanging out in Northampton, having (for now) left New York behind. Here, we find Mikey writing a letter to his friend back in the city, talking about the experience and how things are going. While Mikey’s writing is in broad strokes, the situation is fleshed out as we see the specifics of the characters’ interactions.

Visually, something seemed a bit “off” this issue that I wasn’t expecting. Yet, as I’ve said plenty of times previously, I’m quite used to and almost “expect” a number of different visual interpretations of the Turtles and cast. So despite the “off-ness” I really didn’t have any actual “problem” with the art. Despite that “off-ness,” Campbell‘s style here is similar enough to Santolouco‘s that if I wasn’t reviewing this I probably wouldn’t have paid attention to the credits to realize it WAS a different artist.

The story in this issue is a bit of a lull in the action, things are relatively low-key. And I very much enjoyed that! It also reminds me of one of my favorite issues of the original TMNT series by Eastman and Laird (for that matter, one of my all-time favorite issues of TMNT, or anything, period). I feel like I always enjoy this type of issue–just getting to see the characters interact, without there having to be some grand amount of action.

As usual, I enjoyed the “latest issue” of this series, and am definitely looking forward to the next. While I loathe the $3.99 pricing, this also continues to be a series I’d grudgingly pay that weekly for, provided it maintained its quality.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #26 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw026City Fall, part five

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco, Charles Paul Wilson III
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Leters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

Mikey reconnects with his pizza pal; Donatello and April seek assistance from an old, reluctant ally; Leonardo finds himself lonely within the Foot family; Raphael solidifies an alliance with Angel and visits Casey, and Splinter fulfills his end of a deal with Old Hob.

All in all, there’s a lot going on in this issue, as we see snippets of what’s going on for a number of different parties. I’m actually reminded tonight of some of Laird‘s issues from the mid-2000s Mirage Volume 4 series, where everyone was off on their own, so any given issue might not have much for a specific character/story but would touch base briefly on a number of characters and things going on. While I would certainly like to see “more,” as a single-issue of a monthly title in the midst of its largest arc yet, this is about as good as it gets. I grouse about other publishers double-shipping titles, and yet I would–on the level of quality the TMNT books have been carrying–gladly follow a weekly series even with the $3.99 cover price.

The art is consistent and overall quite good. There are times I’m a bit distracted at the turtles’ faces, but that’s just the shaping in this depiction…it’s a bit different and slightly cartooney, yet not bad, and other than momentary distraction I really do like this visual take on the characters. The humans–and I’m struck especially by April–look great in this issue, and I’m glad this mega-arc at least is maintaining the consistent visuals (with art variances coming with the Villains Micro-Series that ties in to “current events”).

This is part 5 of City Fall, so in and of itself isn’t the best jumping-on point: the issue’s action all comes from events previously established both throughout the first four chapters of the story and the IDW TMNT continuity as a whole. However, I do believe IDW‘s keeping to the 4-issue TPBs, so this should be the first single issue after the newest TPB volume, and in that regard this would be a handy jumping on point.

Despite being only one of about 10 issues I bought this week, this was top of the stack–ahead, even, of the one DC Villains Month issue I’ve most anticipated (Batman/Superman 3.1: Doomsday #1)–and despite my intent to save the issue to read later, found myself taking an extended lunch break (the bulk of the break having been spent going to the shop to purchase all these comics) to read this issue.

TMNT is consistently one of the most anticipated issues of the month for me, and seems to always leave me having enjoyed the given issue while anxiously looking forward to getting the next issue…something that is an unfortunate rarity in this day and age.

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