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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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TMNT New Animated Adventures #2 [Review]

tmntnewanimatedadventures002Story: Kenny Byerly
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Dario Brizuela
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

Snakeweed is probably the most memorable of my least-favorite characters introduced in the new TMNT series. He may have also been the first–I don’t quite recall for sure. So while I was looking forward to another issue of the New Animated Adventures…the fact that it featured Snakeweed as the mutant du jour was rather dismaying.

This issue’s well in line with fitting the tone of this series so far (the FCBD and #1 issues), but for Snakeweed it’s certainly my least-favorite issue so far.

Leo’s been looking forward (for weeks!) to a marathon airing of the entire Space Heroes series and exposing his bros to the show. The power cuts out, and while he complains, Splinter suggests a reverence for nature rather than a railing against nature’s storms. Eventually the power is restored, only for the turtles to learn of a plant infestation in the city. They investigate and discover Snakeweed’s involvement and a new plan–to release spores in a storm to spread more Snakeweeds and overtake the humans, returning the planet to a vegetative state. The turtles split up–two to tackle the mutant himself and two to contain the spores.

I continue to enjoy Brizuela‘s art on this, and really like the visual take on these characters. They’re quite recognizable as being based on the tv series, yet maintain a comic book feel that avoids looking like some straight “adaptation” or “imitation”…it’s truly its own thing.

Story-wise, as said, I have a strong dislike for Snakeweed, so I’m not impressed there. In and of itself, the story works, and everyone seems “on” to what one would expect within this shared tv/comic continuity, so objectively this is definitely another solid issue. Long-time TMNT fans will also likely note a surprising yet obvious “Easter Egg” with April partway into the issue that brings back memories.

I’m looking forward to the next issue–the cover preview suggests the involvement of Kraang Prime, which is all the more appealing for my dislike here of Snakeweed, as well as having just a few days ago finally having watched the tv series’ season one finale.

If you’re enjoying the tv series, but don’t want to venture into the full-blown comics continuity of IDW‘s ongoing series, this is certainly a great book to jump into for some TMNT comics’ enjoyment. And if you just enjoy TMNT comics, this is well worthwhile…more color adventures, and it stands by itself (alongside the tv series) offering a “different” take on these characters.

TMNT New Animated Adventures #1 [Review]

TMNT New Animated Adventures #1Story: Kenny Byerly
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Dario Brizuela
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

I’ve been quite looking forward to this premiere issue for a couple months now, since at least the FCBD issue back in May. In many ways, this is sort of a #2 issue, as it fits excellently with the FCBD issue (which was itself a full issue and not just a few pages’ preview or a short one-off amidst so-called “dvd-style extras” or such.

As I’d said then and hold with this issue, this truly feels right at home within the continuity of the Nickelodeon animated series–the characterization is consistent, and I even “hear” the voices from the show as I read this.

The visuals are a great blend of simply “comic book art” and “adaptation form another medium” as the characters are very recognizeable as based on the CGI designs of the animated series…yet Brizuela‘s art is distinctive and does not seem to “try too hard” to BE what it is not–it’s 2-D art and works very well, and avoids being particularly “cartooney” or over-simple.

Story-wise, this is an April-centric issue, focusing largely on her integration into the turtles’ family unit, and showing her increasing skills unter Splinter’s tutelage while we see her equally as fallible as the turtles themselves–also teens.

After showing off her stealth and receiving praise from Splinter, April accompanies Donatello to a junkyard to track down a piece of of tech for his inventions. Unfortunately, the junkyard turns out to be a bit more than they bargained for, and April is captured by the military, and the turtles have to intervene. Ultimately, a lesson is learned by all, and things continue on.

I’ve enjoyed the main/”real” TMNT continuity from IDW these past couple of years, and despite not being entirely enamored with the animated tv series, I did enjoy reading this issue. As long as I’ve been into TMNT in general, I very fondly remember the original Archie-published TMNT Adventures, so this TMNT New Animated Adventures is a bit reminiscent of that in intent, it seems. It remains to be seen if this will branch off into its own individual continuity, but I’m content to follow this as an extension to the tv series’ continuity.

As with the tv series, this story is a done-in one/self-contained story…you get a full story in one issue, and there’s no need to get the next issue to FINISH this story…which is another nice thing about this. Though the next-issue ad indicates one of my least-favorite characters of the series, I’ll happily give it a chance simply for being TMNT, and of course Brizuela‘s art.

TMNT New Animated Adventures FCBD 2013 [Review]

tmntnewanimatedadventuresfcbd2013Story: Erik Burnham
Art: Dario Brizuela
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Cover by: Dario Brizuela
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $0.00

I’ve been “expecting” this series for quite awhile. I recall thinking it’d be one of the first TMNT things put out by IDW, and precede the new animated series. Obviously I was wrong in that expectation, but that also made me all the more curious about this issue, having watched most of the episodes so far of the tv show serving as inspiration.

I was quite gratified to find that this issue totally fits–for me, anyway–within the continuity of the show. It was like an adaptation of an episode, yet even better–because it’s an original story, with some really good art, that simply captures the spirit of the show while doing its own thing.

We open with Mikey showing off some new moves and getting teased by his brothers. Splinter steps into things, and uses the brotherly rivalry as a teaching moment–the turtles are all quite good with their chosen weapons…but what’s their skill level with an unfamiliar weapon? Ordered to maintain a temporary weapon swap, the turtles head up out of the sewers, and wind up fighting some Purple Dragons before encountering an even larger menace, and learning the wisdom Splinter set forth.

The story has these characters nailed–the personalities from the nick tv show shine through on all involved characters, and some of the quips are highly true to the show. I was especially impressed at a moment with Raphael and Donatello where Raph grabs Donnie and instructs him “Don’t you EVER try and finish that sentence”–the context and hearing the voice from the cartoon in my head nearly made me laugh out loud in a way that so rarely happens.

Visually I really enjoyed the art. Brizuela‘s name is familiar to me from work on a number of issues of Tales of the TMNT from 2004-2009. It’s very cool to see another “veteran” of Mirage TMNT doing some new TMNT work for tmntnewanimatedadventuresfcbd2013backIDW…something I hope to see more of from creators with any interest in doing so. The characters all look like their animated counterparts (though admittedly CGI to 2D); but the art’s still got a certain uniqueness about it. It’s obviously based on the cartoon, but it’s not trying to BE the cartoon. It’s also quite a lot better-looking than stills taken from the cartoon itself.

This is easily my favorite Free Comic Book Day issue this year, and I’m really looking forward to the first issue of the actual ongoing series this summer.

If you can only grab one FCBD issue this year, I’d highly recommend this to fans of the TV show or fans of Burnham or Brizuela‘s other work, and general fans of the TMNT as a whole.

Tales of the TMNT #67 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: Schooled

Shadow starts at a new school, and must resist the urge to tell everybody about her mutant “uncles.”

talesofthetmnt067Script: Dan Berger
Pencils and Tones: Dario Brizuela
Inks: Andres Ponce
Letters: Eric Talbot
Cover: Dario Brizuela and Steve Lavigne
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Published by: Mirage Publishing

Unfortunately, this series has what I can only describe as a “lame duck” feeling about it. There are just a couple more issues due out before the series goes away completely. And being the sole presence of the TMNT in comics for the last few years, there are no other books for these characters to show up in, or co-feature in, and so on. With the property having been sold off, and zero word on any new comic series and whether any of the existing/ongoing continuity would be maintained or if the entire property would be restarted if comics are done…it makes the long-term effect of this issue seem pretty low-key and like it has little point to it. Of course, taken by itself, this is quite an enjoyable story.

This issue sees Shadow–the adopted daughter of Casey Jones and April–getting into a new school, and everyone dealing with that. At the same time, Mikey and Don are out and about on the streets, keeping each other focused as to what’s right and wrong. When Shadow’s first day at school arrives, her family is excited and proud, though they warn her of the danger that would come by her talking about her “uncles” and whatnot…which of course leads to trouble. Still, the resolution is mostly satisfying…at least in keeping with the nature of Casey in particular.

I’ve realized throughout this series that despite the differences in the various visual styles of the artists involved, each largely has something to really like. For example, this issue reminds me of the recent TMNT animated series–particularly Casey’s appearance. The turtles themselves look quite different in detail but still seem like they’d fit in rather well with the animated series’ visual style. My only real gripe is that I don’t think I’ve ever pictured Shadow as a blonde–and I don’t know if that’s me simply never noticing, or what the deal is–but other than that, the art’s good stuff.

As with many issues of this series, this is a done-in-one tale, so you don’t really need earlier issues to follow the story (though they’ll add plenty of context). You can pick this up by itself and enjoy it as a one-shot thing, or as another untold tale from this period in the Turtles’ lives.

It’s just unfortunate that this doesn’t seem like just the latest untold tale to add context to a present-day story…nothing’s really going to come of this or refer back to this.

Recommended for TMNT fans in particular…and whether this issue or most of the prior issues, this series in itself is well worth reading, and its lengthy run these past 6 years is second only to the TMNT Adventures series from Archie back in the 1990s.

Ratings:

Story: 3.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 3.5/5

Tales of the TMNT #58 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: All Tomorrow’s Yesterdays

The TMNT and the C.O.W.Boys of Moo Mesa team up again, this time to face the ultimate threat to the C.O.W.Boys’ Earth.

talesofthetmnt058Plot: Murphy & Ryan Brown
Script: Murphy
Art: Dario Brizuela
Lettering: Eric Talbot
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Editor in Chief: Peter Laird
Managing Editor: Dan Berger
Design: Eric Talbot
Front Cover: Dario Brizuela and Steve Lavigne
Back Cover: Fernando Leon Gonzalez

This issue is the latest installment in a series of teamups between the TMNT and the C.O.W.Boys of Moo Mesa.

Picking up from the most recent installment a few months ago, Utromi Preservi (an elite/secret society of Utroms) has gathered what they need to awaken a cosmic vampire, Galactose (think “Milky Way galaxy” for the joke). While the Turtles and their allies rush to try to save the C.O.W.Boys’ Earth, Donatello may have the secret that will save everyone. We also have a brief appearance by Cudley the Cowlick, who longtime TMNT fans will recognize from the TMNT Adventures series…nothing too significant about the appearance, but a great nod to said fans. There’s also a moment where the Turtles are shown other incarnations of themselves, which was VERY cool to see.

The art by Brizuela is very good. The style is enjoyable, though different from other TMNT artists (while keeping the characters recognizable and other expected things with a comic). The comic’s interior is black-and-white, but as the front cover is done by the same artist as the interior pages, one can see what everyone looks like in color and almost forget the interior is not in color.

One of the thing that’s been great about this title shows through with this issue’s story. For the most part, each issue is its own standalone story. However, creative teams will re-visit and expand upon earlier stories, building larger stories, even if they’re not consecutive issues in this title (which is almost an anthology, except that each story/creative team gets a full issue rather than having multiple stories/creative teams in a single issue).

The story is fun, though one has to really suspend disbelief on a few points. The cosmic vampire as a nod to Galactus is–while derivative–also kinda cool if one recognizes the association–on a metatextual level it adds plenty that there’s not time for otherwise in a single-issue story.

This isn’t the best single issue for one jumping aboard clueless about the characters; but so long as one isn’t looking for lengthy, drawn-out continuity and depth, it’s a fun issue with plenty of action and some jokes thrown in.

Additionally, as I noted when I reviewed the prior chapter of this story, another thing Mirage gets right is not only including a pin up page in the back of the issue with an image related to the story but a color alternate image also related to the story is presented in color on the back cover…no need to seek out extra copies of this comic for these bonus images.

All in all, this continues to be a strong title, telling TMNT stories from throughout their continuity by different creative teams, keeping the book always fresh and with some real heart behind the individual tales.

Ratings:

Story: 3/5
Art: 3.5/5
Overall: 3/5

Tales of the TMNT #52 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: The Crystal at the Heart of the World

Investigating a worrisome shutdown of an important machine, the Turtles and Utroms find themselves on Moo Mesa, where they encounter a plot that might just be bigger than the TMNT and C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa combined can handle…

talesofthetmnt052Plot: Murphy, Brown and Laird
Script: Murphy
Thumbnails: Ryan Brown
Art: Dario Brizuela
Letters: Eric Talbot
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Back-Up Story: The Mission by: Dan Berger
Editor in Chief: Peter Laird
Managing Editor: Dan Berger
Design: Eric Talbot
Front Cover: Dario Brizuela and Steve Lavigne
Back Cover: Fernando Leon Gonzalez

The issue opens with the traditional frontispiece with one of the Turtles in cowboy getup, fixin’ to tell us a story…one that begins with the opposite of a certain cliche, as a figure on horseback in the desert rides toward us–OUT OF the sunset rather than off into it. We quickly see that it is an Utrom, who has infiltrated the place known as Moo Mesa. He shuts down a device to spark his own agenda into motion–though the shutting-down of the device draws the attention of Utroms on Earth who soon journey to Moo Mesa (with Turtles and Casey in tow) to investigate the device’s shutdown. (Re)uniting with their now “old allies”, the C.O.W.Boys of Moo Mesa, and a new (deja-vu-inspiring) ally, the immediate threat is faced, while yet a greater threat is revealed.

This is the third issue to unite the Moo Mesa crew with the Mutant Turtles crew, and I’m certainly enjoying the recurring crossover. Writer Ryan Brown has done plenty of work in the TMNT-verse, and created the C.O.W. Boys (you might remember them from a two-season animated series). It seems only natural to bring the two properties together for another go-round, and it’s done so to great effect. While perhaps part of a larger meta-arc, this issue stands alone fairly nicely–we have a good introduction bringing characters to the forefront, rising into the action, a climax, and then things settle out…both closing this story and setting up the next (due next year).

The art works very well here–visually, it has the appearance of an “animated” sort of style, without losing the feel of being its own original comic work. While I don’t know any of the C.O.W. Boys characters well enough to recognize individuals, I do notice how hard it is to tell the Turtles apart–it’s only dialog or visible weapons that allows that discernment. Still, all fits together quite well, and neither set of characters seems out-of-place in the presence of the others.
For me, the highlight of the issue is a guest-appearance by a certain transdimensional Cowlick. This has me totally chomping at the bit for the next part of this series of issues and itching for the long-promised Forever War–I actually got my hopes up that this issue would actually kick that off, but we’re left with a simple “To Be Continued in Tales of the TMNT #58…”

There’s also a two-page micro-story of no small amusement to close out the issue…which is another thing this title has going for it. As a package, we get a nice cover, an extra artist’s work on the frontispiece, a 28-paged story, a 2-page backup story, a pin-up page with another artist’s take on characters found in this issue, and a full-color image on the back-cover worthy of being a poster…with nary an ad to be found. A comic this pure to its title/self–and for the (relatively low) price point–is hard to come by, and such a real treat.

If you’re looking for decompressed, deep character-studies, you’ll probably be disappointed. Looking for a simple, old-fashioned TMNT adventure with the bonus of having the C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa along, this issue’s for you. Recommended to any TMNT fan, C.O.W. Boys fan, someone contemplating checking out “a” Turtles book, or anyone just looking for an enjoyable single-issue that packs the value in under a single cover.

Ratings:

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

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