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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.

TMNT: Turtles in Time #1 [Review]

tmntturtlesintime001Turtles in Time (part 1)

Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Ross Campbell
Colorist: Bill Crabtree
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

Two TMNT comics in one week? I’m not a fan of the $3.99 being doubled-up in the single week, but it IS TMNT, and this is a fun issue, so I’m not about to complain about “more TMNT” than less!

We pick up with the turtles randomly running from dinosaurs and utroms–either on prehistoric Earth or a planet much like it. The group is quickly split, with Raph captured by utroms, and the others chased off by the dinosaurs. As Raph recruits a baby Triceratops (he’s named her “Pepperoni”), the others mount a rescue operation that doesn’t go too badly…until the utrom military arrives. The turtles get some clue as to what’s going on when Renet shows up, but she’s not as helpful as she could be. Finally, the utroms’ military leader sees potential in what’s to be found on this world.

Visually, the Peterson cover is awesome…even if it is a bit misleading. It was rather jarring to go from that beautiful cover to the interior, which is a much different style. That gave me a bit of pause, and it took several pages to “adjust” but once I did, I quite liked the interior art as well. Though This is presumably set within current IDWTMNT-verse continuity, their was something to the look that struck me as being almost more like the current animated series than the ongoing IDW book.

There’s a blurb on the inside of the cover explaining that this series takes place after the 2014 Annual, but that Annual is not yet out. Perhaps that’d be a bigger deal to me on other stuff, but for the TMNT, it doesn’t bother me too much. The “spin” of it being a “time malfunction” is just cutesy enough to be amusing, and could loosely be seen as a bit of “augmented reality” or whatever buzzword folks want to use for trying to immerse a reader in stuff related to the issue.

Story-wise, this actually ALMOST functions as a sort of one-shot. We’re as readers already thrown off a bit by being tossed into the middle of a situation-in-progress, and we end on a similar note in such a way that it sort of brings things full circle, even though the story whole is continuing into the next issue.

I like the characterization, particularly Mikey and Raph in this issue. I “heard” the voice of the current animated series’ Mikey in this, and chuckled at an amusing bit where an utrom unknowingly repeats something Mikey did, allowing readers to make an assumption as to what happened off-panel.

I don’t recall seeing any solicitation info or any blurbs in the back of any TMNT issues I’ve read mentioning this series, so its appearance this week was a pleasant surprise and definite “treat.” While it seems this story will spin out of the upcoming TMNT 2014 Annual, there’s certainly enough in-story context to bring one up to speed on what matters to the current story. Really, other than involving utroms and a mention of Krang this seems to sit alone quite well, not contradicting anything in continuity but not drawing from any specific moment in the ongoing series…so it’s well worth jumping in on this mini-series at least, even if you’re not following the ongoing in particular. And if you do follow the ongoing, this is a fun side-adventure that’s an enjoyable read…whether or not it plays much into the ongoing book.

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.

TMNT New Animated Adventures #4 [Review]

tmntnewanimatedadventures004Story: Erik Burnham
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Dario Brizuela
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

After April brings cell-phone video of a lone Foot ninja sneaking around, the turtles investigate. Unfortunately, it turns out to be a trap, as the Foot test a newly-rendered poison on them (delivered via blow-darts). Raphael is hit, which leads the turtles to race to find ingredients for the antidote. Of course, archnemesis the Shredder is behind things, and sends Dogpound to prevent the turtles from obtaining the final ingredient.

Story-wise, this isn’t all that deep…but then, being based on the animated series I wouldn’t expect much depth. As this continues the trend of the done-in-one format, there’s also not much room for a lot of depth…and I’m ok with that. This issue particularly (over the previous issues) feels like it would fit in equally well with the original ’80s animated series or the current, and I even found myself “hearing” the ’80s voicecast as I read the turtles’ dialogue (Dogpound was a mix of Bebop and Rocksteady).

Visually, this continues to be one of the best-looking “adaptations” I’ve seen as Brizuela‘s art continues to carry the spirit and design of the animated series while keeping its own look that just “is.” I find myself increasingly preferring Brizuela‘s visuals to the animated series itself.

All in all, yet another solid issue, likely enjoyable by any fan of the current tv show, and even a bit to those who prefer the original animated series.

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