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Tales of the TMNT #53 [Review]

Quick Rating: Very Good
Story Title: Alien Invaders, This Mortal Shell, Ghosts of Christmas Past

A boy plots to steal a toy from Casey’s daughter but finds more than he bargained for; Don and April process their present situation; Leonardo remembers one fateful winter’s evening years ago.

talesofthetmnt053Alien Invaders
Script/Pencils/Inks: Jim Lawson
Lettering: Eric Talbot
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Cover: Jim Lawson and Steve Lavigne
This Mortal Shell
Authors: Colleen Frakes & Jon-Mikel Gates
Pencils: Adam Staffaroni
Finishes, Greytones & Letters: Andrew Arnold
Ghosts of Christmas Past
Script/Layouts: Dan Berger
Art: Chad Hurd
Toning Assistance: Sam Ellis

Though black-and-white, this issue is one of the better comic values I’ve found recently. More than fifty pages of story, uninterrupted by ads. One main story exceeded an expected 22ish pages, with two well-sized “backups”…all for a nice low price of $3.25.

The first/main story of the issue sees a plumber fixing a problem in Casey’s house. The plumber’s assistant while checking a toilet upstairs spots a rare, collectible “Lil Orphan Aliens” toy that belongs to Shadow (Casey’s daughter), and decides that he has to have it. When he and a friend later scope out the house and make to steal the toy, they find themselves confronted with four rather life-size and active “aliens.”

This story is a typical sorta tale for this title: it’s set during the past, at a time when the turtles were living with Casey and his daughter, Shadow at the farmhouse. This is a sort of slice-of-life kinda piece for the characters–no huge villain, no life-changing (for them) cataclysmic event. Just a story of one instance of the weirdness outsiders would find when they start poking into stuff at the house that they have no business poking into. The turtles are not the main focus of the story (they’re just part of the environment, which we can appreciate as readers for knowing who/what they really are).

The story itself is fairly simplistic and cliched–I’m sure I’ve seen very similar scenes/stories before with the TMNT–but it’s still rather amusing. The story provides a nice bit of commentary on the fanatical urges some people seem to get when it comes to “collecting” rare stuff. The art is typical Lawson, which is to say there are no surprises, and it has a good consistency. Lawson for me is one of a handful of artists I specifically associate with the TMNT, and while it probably isn’t for everyone, I’ve grown to like it in the TMNT stories.

The next story features a conversation with a pint-sized Donatello and regular-sized April, catching up on recent events; their conversation is interspersed for the reader with flashes to the mutated Raphael dealing with an attack by alien-hating people on the street.

This story was created by students of the Center for Cartoon Studies, and is a pretty good outing. I’m not entirely thrilled with the visuals–I much prefer Lawson’s take on the mutated Raphael, for example–but in a title that features so many different visual interpretations of the TMNT characters, I don’t take any huge issue with it. The story itself somewhat recaps some major events in the “core” TMNT book, while in itself being just a conversation between old friends Don and April. As there’s been one issue of that “core” book since 2006 or so, I find it a nice moment to revisit that “present time” while I think it would also serve to allow newer readers/visitors to the TMNT-verse a chance to see the status quo of the “present” status of the characters.

The final story sees Leonardo facing an overwhelming swarm of Foot ninjas, and reminded me immediately of the Leonardo 1-issue Micro-Series from the original Mirage run, and for good reason.

The art seems rather dark, almost like it was printed from color to black-and-white. The style reminds me of the 2003 animated series, and is a style I really like. The story’s ending did not surprise me in the least, even as it hit close to home, and a lot is really said by what happens without being stated explicitly, and for the moment makes this one of my favorite shorts to appear in this title.

All told, you get a lot of story in this issue, with glimpses into several periods of the Turtles’ lives and continuity. There is plenty of bang for your buck, and for the price and size of this issue as well as its content, you can hardly go wrong with this. As with many comics, you’ll find even more to appreciate in this as an older reader, but a new reader just picking this up should have little trouble picking up on stuff if the basic concept of the TMNT is known.

Ratings:

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

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