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TMNT Amazing Adventures #1 [Review]

tmntamazingadventures001Story: Landry Q. Walker
Art: Chad Thomas
Back-up Story by: James Kochalka
Colors: Heather Breckel
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Jon Sommariva
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: August 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

We open on the turtles out in the city following up on a rumored sighting of Doctor Cluckingsworth. They’re soon surprised–and defeated by the same. Enlisting Splinter’s aid, they soon learn they were (and are) actually facing an old entity known as Zodiac. The turtles and Splinter find themselves forced into an alliance with the Shredder (after an obligatory fight) but soon find themselves at the mercy of a number of familiar antagonists under the control of the Zodiac and face the loss of one of their own.

Perhaps that all sounds a bit dramatic–and it is. Yet at the same time it’s also a bit simplistic…especially as I’m not much of a fan of the “mutant of the week” theme that seems to run with this particular incarnation of the turtles (compared to the ongoing serialized continuities of the 2003 tv show and the current “main” IDW series).

But this isn’t exactly aimed at me. This seems very much aimed at younger readers, and fans of the current Nickelodeon tv show. However, as with its predecessor (TMNT New Animated Adventures), this plays a bit on my nostalgia factor. This is a separate series from the “main comics version” of the turtles, based on the characters as they appear in a still-putting-out-new-episodes animated series. Where the old Archie-publilshed TMNT Adventures quickly diverged into its own continuity entirely, this seems to hold closer to tv continuity.

Given that…I dig the art on this issue. The characters are all clear, consistent, and are definitely comic-book-characters. This looks like a comic book, and not some adaptation. The visual style is its own thing, though the character designs are obviously the current tv versions, with certain key things about the various characters apparent. That’s to be expected given what the series is, and I consider that a very strong positive that everything is obvious while not trying to be something it’s not.

The story is relatively simple, but quite solid. As a new #1 and thus introductory point, I rather enjoy that so many familiar characters were pulled in (if only as cameos) while also seeming to introduce an entirely new character in Zodiac. I suspect this will make the issue that much more accessible to existing readers and fans of the tv show, as well as–this being a first issue–serving to quickly show off a number of the colorful mutant characters that are part of this universe.

The voice of the characters rings true and I like having an apparently-new antagonist not given a goofy name by one of the turtles.

Unfortunately, the story is cut dreadfully short at a mere 16 pages, apparently to make room for a very uninteresting-to-me backup story. This basically involves Mikey trying to volcano-roast a pizza, and the turtles then conveniently discovering an actual volcano underground, and generally acting (to this mid-30s adult) overly childish and stupid.

The backup story’s art does not look at all like “professional quality” art, and standing strictly by and for itself looks absurd next to the main story. There’s nothing to contextualize the piece, to say if the artist is a kid, or if they’re going for a certain look, etc…and while I usually am rather welcoming to alternative artistic interpretations of the turtles, I feel like losing 1/3 of the content pages to this was a waste of space and cover price.

All in all, Walker‘s lead story is good, and I’m interested to see where it goes (and whether it is only a 2-parter or something a bit longer). For a younger reader, this would seem to be an excellent jumping-on point, and certainly worth and adult buying them a copy.

The price and loss of story to the backup gives me serious pause in regards to this title, though I’ll give it another issue or two to see if the backup thing is a regular part of this series and where that quality goes. I’ve enjoyed Walker‘s work in the past, so that’s going to be the core draw for me on the series…it just sucks to consider paying $4/issue to “only” enjoy a lead feature instead of having the entire issue be up to the lead feature’s quality/interest.

As a first issue, definitely recommended.

Plus, hey…it’s TMNT. More fun than plenty of other stuff out there.

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Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade #6 [Review]

Graduation Day, Part 2

Writer: Landry Q. Walker
Artist: Eric Jones
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Coloring: Joey Mason
Asst. Editor: Simona Martore
Editors: Jann Jones & Elisabeth V. Gearlein
Cover: Eric Jones
Publisher: Johnny DC/DC Comics

We open on a battle–Lex Luthor vs. Superman and Supergirl. Supergirl’s opposite/duplicate, Belinda has been taken out of the equation, and Supergirl’s secret identity’s best friend–Luthor’s younger sister–is fighting mad. Amidst the carnage, Streaky the super-cat and Comet the super-horse can be found fulfilling their own roles, as the true menace stands revealed as that 5th-dimensional imp-whose-name-is-hard-to-spell. As Supergirl and her future self attend to Mxy, we even get a couple of great nods toward mainline DC continuity that ought to elicit a knowing smile, at least, from older readers, and yet remain innocent enough that those not “in the know” won’t feel left out as the panels serve the story in and of themselves.

This has been a great series–one that could have come across as overly simplistic, but has a strong balance of complexity with its simplicity. This issue draws on details sprinkled throughout the last 5 issues, building to a resolution that both wraps up the main points introduced without closing the door on the cast of characters.

The art–as it’s been consistently on this book–has a simplicity to it that feels like this could be adapting an animated series, without feeling like there’s been any loss in quality for that. The visuals convey the story very well, and are an integral part of the feel of this book.

The creative team has taken something that could have been a flop and created something much better than it had any right to be. If you passed on this or otherwise missed it as singles, I highly recommend checking out any collected volume that may become available…or track down the single issues, and share them with a younger reader in your life!

Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9.5/10

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade #5 [Review]

Graduation Day, Part 1

Writer: Landry Q. Walker
Artist: Eric Jones
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Joey Mason
Asst. Editor: Simona Martore
Editors: Jann Jones & Elisabeth V. Gearlein
Cover: Eric Jones
Publisher: Johnny DC/DC Comics

Like most mini-series do, this one is coming to a close. In earlier issues, we’ve been introduced to a rich supporting cast of fun characters–Lena and Belinda, teachers and students, even Streaky the super-cat…as well as (of course) Superman, Lex Luthor, and even Supergirl’s parents. These characters being part of things help to define and add character to Supergirl herself, and her interactions with these characters are what makes this book work.

Having this foundation laid, this issue is billed as Graduation Day, Part 1…lending feeling to this “series finale” (though I’d hope that “season finale” will be a more appropriate term before long!). Taking elements built through the first few issues, we see payoff for a number of characters: Belinda dealing with being a duplicate of Supergirl; Lena realizing who her roommate is, Supergirl encountering her future self, even Streaky returning to play his own (rather amusing) role.

The art is perfectly consistent with earlier issues, maintaining the style and tone I’ve come to expect of this book, and havin the visual style of a contemporary cartoon series.

The story itself draws nicely on elements put in place with earlier issues, moving things to a bit of a resolution this issue. By issue’s end, a lot of the tension and conflict built up so far is dealt with, even as a new threat (that I feel I could have seen coming, but didn’t) is introduced that has loads of grat potential for the final issue.

If you’ve not been reading this series…get the collected volume when it comes out. For longtime fans of the Superman books or just those familiar with the Superman “lore,” this is a fun book for adults, and quite suitable for the younger crowd. Along with Billy Batson and the Magic of Shazam, these Johnny DC books are providing much more fun in comics for me today than most other comics from the big publishers.

Highly recommended!

Story: 9/10
Art: 9/10
Whole: 9.5/10

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade #4 [Review]

Writer: Landry Q. Walker
Artist: Eric Jones
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Coloring: Joey Mason
Editor: Jann Jones
Cover: Eric Jones
Publisher: Johnny DC/DC Comics

This series just keeps getting better and better.

We begin this issue with an ominous scene of a student running from some clawed beast in the dark of the school’s halls, and then flip back to earlier in the day. We see that Kara is trying to solve her vulnerability-to-Kryptonite problem so that she could be of better use to her older cousin (visualized by a glimpse of her imaginary Moon Supergirl persona). Snapped back to other things she has to deal with, she inadvertantly exposes a cat to the Kryptonite she’s been working on. After Kara, Lena, and Belinda find themselves in a mostly empty school and begin to investigate, they come across a cat that seems to have Supergirl’s powers–and who they discover to have access to an underground lab where other students are being held. Amidst their tussel with the cat, Lena discovers Kara’s dual identity which puts a bit of a strain on their relationship.

This is my favorite issue yet. We wouldn’t be to this point if we didn’t have the earlier issues, as they introduced us to characters and concepts that play roles in this issue’s story. But this issue was just so thoroughly enjoyable that I’m quite sad to realize there are only two issues left. If ever a mini-series should be updgraded to an ongoing, this is one of ’em!

The art is strongly consistent with earlier issues–the primary characters are completely recognizeable, and the style of other smaller/newer characters fit in seamlessly with the established characters. The style puts me (as usual) very much in mind of contemporary animated series one might find on the Cartoon Network, while maintaining the feel of the intended media–this is a comic book, after all, and not a cartoon. The depiction of the cat is particularly amusing.

The story–as said–builds on what’s already been established. Though this is slated to be only a 6-issue mini-series, we have all the trappings of an ongoing series. Characters are changing and developing as we go along, with still loads of potential for continued growth beyond a mere two more issues. The story in this issue is at once self-contained and yet continues to develop over-arching themes.

All in all, this is one of the most enjoyable comics I’ve read in a long time. Highly recommended!

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8.5/10

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade #3 [Review]

Writer: Landry Q. Walker
Artist: Eric Jones
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Coloring: Joey Mason
Editor: Jann Jones
Cover: Eric Jones
Publisher: Johnny DC/DC Comics

This issue opens in the 8th-grade lunchroom as Linda and Lena are eating–“banished” from fellow students. Belinda moves in and pretends to be friends, actually stirring up trouble. Linda spots danger and zips into action as Supergirl, saving the city–but gets blindsided by a second asteroid. When she wakes, she finds that all her fellow students are now pretty super, and needs to adjust to this strange new status quo.

The art in the issue is quite good–sure, it’s not Perez or Ross–but it really gives this book its own visual and tone. Moreso than many other comics, that unique tone is necessary for the story to work; and here, it does. I’m put in mind of any of a number of animated series on tv, while this does not directly adapt any existing series. The familiarity sells it, while the uniqueness makes it work.

The writing is consistent with earlier issues, and pulls one in–providing at once a story that one can pick up and read without having read the first two issues…but if you’ve read those, you’ll start seeing where things have been set up to have continuing impact on the larger story.

I recall being lukewarm on the first issue, more interested with the second issue, and at this issue, I’m sold. We have an engaging title character, silver-age elements made to seem perfectly contemporary, and a story with stuff adults can enjoy without the issue being aimed for adults. Ridiculous as some of the “drama” is, I can’t imagine it being anything but realistic, particularly for the age-range this book’s aimed at.

Recommended.

Story: 8/10
Art: 7/10
Whole: 7.5/10

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade #2 [Review]

Writer: Landry Q. Walker
Artist: Eric Jones
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Joey Mason
Associate Editor: Adam Schlagman
Editor: Jann Jones
Cover: Eric Jones
Publisher: Johnny DC/DC Comics

This issue follows Supergirl (Linda Lee) as she deals with the introduction of a new rival who makes life quite frustrating for the young Girl of Steel.

The art is nice and consistent with a stylized cartooney appearance that really fits the story perfectly. This looks like it could be a storyboard for a rather entertaining cartoon complete with some of the classic visual trappings and exaggerations I’d expect out of a cartoon.

The story itself–with the introduction/origin/initial status quo set up for Supergirl out of the way last issue–is able to function very well as a slice of life/done-in-one adventure-in-the-8th-grade for the character, while introducing a couple characters that will likely be part of the recurring cast.

I liked this issue quite a bit–I liked it more than the previous issue, and that’s a trend I certainly enjoy with comics. There are some nice nods to mainstream DC continuity that older fans can get, while those same elements build on the character as found in these pages. A main point in this story is this anti-/opposite Supergirl character; something that is pulled off and makes much more sense as done here than it did in the main Supergirl book several years back.

If you’re looking for something to give to a younger comic fan–or someone you’re looking to turn into a comic fan–this is a great place to start.

As only the 2nd issue, if you haven’t already grabbed the first, it’d also be well worth picking up both in one go.

Story: 8/10
Art: 8/10
Whole: 8/10

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade #1 [Review]

Writer: Landry Q. Walker
Artist: Eric Jones
Letterer: Pat Brosseau
Coloring: Joey Mason
Editor: Jann Jones
Cover: Eric Jones
Publisher: Johnny DC / DC Comics

While Superman battles Lex Luthor in a huge mech-armor, the villain gloats that only an other-dimensional rocket could destroy his armor. Then, lo ‘n behold, an other-dimensional rocket arrives, crashing through the armor, and from this craft comes a young Super-girl.

This is a rather cutesy start to the series, but gives a nice quick premise: we have a Supergirl arriving in a rocket from some other dimension. As the issue progresses, we get more background info about what’s brought her to the present: it’s a setup that departs a bit on some key points from what I’m aware of as her traditional background, but it does so presumably to keep things on the lighter side. This IS supposed to be a comic the younger crowd can read, and the lighter tone preserves key points of Supergirl’s situation while leaving other stuff open to future use.

The story is not bad…it felt a bit simplistic and repetetive sometimes, but I’m pretty sure that was done intentionally to lend tone to the story, capturing the feel of what Supergirl goes through trying to begin acclimating to Earth.

The art is a bit too cutesy for me…I realize it’s aimed at kids, and that I’m not the primary/target audience for this. It definitely looks like a saturday morning cartoon series I’d find–and complain about–on the Cartoon Network. This Supergirl would not be entirely out of place for me appearning in Dexter’s Lab or Powerpuff girls. As a whole, the art does definitely fit the story, and taken together, is a pretty good package.

I wouldn’t recommend this much for an adult reader with no kids to interact with on it…but as something to give to a kid (and at risk of political incorrectness, probably more the young female crowd), it’s another fine addition to the Johnny DC line…though as the first of only six issues (according to the cover), it almost seems like it could be worth waiting for a digest-sized collected edition much like what Archie produces…if DC were to do that. My rating below is based on how it hit me–a 28-year-old single male reader with no kids and no one to hand this issue off to. I’m confident it would be rated a couple points higher by someone significantly younger than me with an interest in the Super-characters.

Story: 7/10
Art: 6/10
Whole: 6.5/10

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