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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Superman #2 [Review]

Flying Blind

Script & Breakdowns: George Perez
Pencils & Inks: Jesus Merino
Colors: Brian Buccellato
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover: Perez & Buccellato
Associate Editor: Wil Moss
Editor: Matt Idelson
Published by: DC Comics

From the very first look at this issue–the cover–there’s something that’s been missing for me for a long, long time from Superman comics. I can’t quite put my finger on it, put words to it…but I’m pretty sure it’s something to do with just really liking the look of this new costume as shown here. Maybe it’s just simply that I like Perez‘ art over so much of what I think of with a lot of Superman stuff in recent years and so the cover grabs me. This also seems like the sort of cover, somehow, that “fits” an early issue of a new series, and whatever else to it I can’t find words for…I just simply like this cover.

The interior visuals are high quality as well, and I can’t help but think some of that’s gotta be Perez doing the breakdowns, which makes things fit the story moreso than if the writer and artist were working far more independently of one another. Paging through the issue again, I really can’t find anything that particularly bothers me about the visuals, that isn’t attributable to a generic creature/antagonist or keeping with a “newish” younger look to Clark Kent.

The story itself is good, with all the elements that I’ve tended to enjoy about a Superman comic. And for what seems like the first time in too many YEARS, Clark Kent is actually a part of the Superman story again. Maybe not a huge part, and it’s too soon for me to have much hope of any great emphasis being placed on the Clark Kent personality…but Clark is there, is a part of the story unfolding, and for now, that’s a marked improvement over things during the New Krypton era of the previous DC Universe. I really enjoy that we have Clark, Lois, Jimmy, and Superman all playing parts in the overall story. Cat Grant even appears here, and we at least have a mention of Perry. There’s even a sense of continuity here, that Superman’s got a past, even though in some ways this is like a new beginning of his career. He comes off as a bit unsure of things and yet confident enough to do what he’s gotta do.

As we open the issue, Superman’s awaiting information from Sam Lane, who remains distrustful of the man of steel from their prior encounter (in the “5 years ago” story going on in Action Comics right now). We then transition to Lois and Clark discussing their encounter at the end of the previous issue before returning briefly to General Lane, and then Superman encountering the “monster” of this issue–a creature that everyone but him seems to be able to see. After getting knocked around by the creature, Superman of course figures out a way to deal with this threat, in a fight that rages across 11 of the issue’s 20 pages. Finally, we cut to Superman recording an audio journal or log–his narration has not actually been internal this issue, as it originally appeared to be. This also allows for some more defining of the current relationship Clark has with Lois, and then we’re set up with a mild cliffhanger to lead into the next issue.

All in all…another great issue, which is quickly cementing this as a version of Superman I’d love to read long-term…and somehow, I’m even ok with Superman and Lois not (yet) being romantically involved here. It’s also great that rather than load the back of the issue with a preview I’m not even going to read (yet tend to be annoyed at having to page through to make sure there’s no other RELEVANT content to the issue in-hand), this issue has only a single page advertising Batman: Noel.

Though there’s obviously an over-arcing story building…this is the second issue, and we’ve already had two stories where amidst the other character interactions and details, we’ve had the beginning, middle, and end of a creature’s introduction and battle with Superman, rather than stretch either of these into 4+ issue arcs apiece.

Of the two main Superman books, this is by far my favorite for the story, art, and the feeling of actually getting my money’s worth in content. I expect Action Comics will read as a fast but engaging graphic novel, if you want an actual comic with serialized adventures of Superman, this is certainly the title to get. As an “old fan” I’m greatly enjoying this…but it seems there’s enough here that a new or lapsed reader would be able to figure stuff out fairly easily as well without missing out on anything.

Highly recommended.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 8.5/10
Whole: 8.5/10

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