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Secret History of the Foot Clan #1 [Review]

Secret History of the Foot Clan #1 coverStory: Mateus Santolouco
Script: Mateus Santolouco & Erik Burnham
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Joao “Azeitona” Vieira
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

For me, the Foot Clan has simply always been. The Foot were robots in the ’80s cartoon–a fact I simply accepted. They were human in the live-action movies, and the Eastman/Laird comics, and the 2003 and 2012 animated series. And to be honest, I’ve never really given them much thought, as far as their history goes, how some “ancient clan” came to be what they are in the present. They’re just an element of the whole of the TMNT universe.

Until now.

This issue is part flashback, part stranger’s tale, part Splinter’s tale. We open with narration over flashback, and come to find April, Casey, and the turtles in a lecture hall listening to a history professor speak of the Yuu clan, and eventually pages from a book detailing a ninja order known as the foot Clan. This obviously grabs the attention of our heroes, though in different ways. Once the turtles bring this information to Splinter, he relays information of his own. Meanwhile, the Shredder’s forces also show interest in this professor who seems to be getting a bit too close to home, as we make an interesting discovery via yet another character and their involvement in the history of things.

I wasn’t sure what to expect of this mini-series. I guess I figured it would be something fairly typical, unearthing some singular secret or something that would turn the present understanding of the Foot on its side, maybe something for shock value. But the narrative style, the details of actual history not only interest me in the history of this fictional Foot Clan but also leave me wondering what’s actually real–recognizing much as essentially historical fiction, such that I could see doing some research of my own on Japanese history.

You kinda have to have the turtles present–after all, though this is a mini-series emphasizing the history of the Foot, the regular TMNT logo is more prominent on the cover, and if this weren’t #1 it would appear to be just another issue of the ongoing series. I quite like that there’s a lot of looks at the past while we have present-time development of things within the usual, still-developing continuity. I’d actually probably be perfectly happy if this series was set entirely in the past, simply following figures from the past, and not involve the present at all.

The visual style is interesting–I’m not sure what it reminds me of, but there’s something vaguely familiar, even while it’s got its own style that makes it fairly distinct from the current ongoing TMNT book. While the difference is noticeable and I’m definitely reminded of how varied the individual visual interpretations of these characters can be, there’s plenty familiar that doesn’t stray unrecognizeably far from the ongoing series, which I definitely appreciate.

From just this first issue, I’m not sure what the full story is going to be–whether it’ll overall fit into the “historical fiction” category or just in usual TMNT-type stuff. I do know that I enjoyed both the story and visuals and the way they worked together–we get a literal origin of the Foot from just a visual, for example–making for a very well-done comic.

I’m unfamiliar with Santoloucos and Vieira, but their story and visuals seem poised to be a highly welcome addition to IDW‘s TMNT continuity. While I’m a bit dismayed at IDW‘s standard high $3.99 price point and constant over-use of variant covers, for the story and (standard) cover alone, I definitely recommend this to anyone enjoying the ongoing IDW TMNT stuff, and cautiously recommend it even to those interested in Japanese history/historical fiction.

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