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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.

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