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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.

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) #26 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw026City Fall, part five

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco, Charles Paul Wilson III
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Leters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

Mikey reconnects with his pizza pal; Donatello and April seek assistance from an old, reluctant ally; Leonardo finds himself lonely within the Foot family; Raphael solidifies an alliance with Angel and visits Casey, and Splinter fulfills his end of a deal with Old Hob.

All in all, there’s a lot going on in this issue, as we see snippets of what’s going on for a number of different parties. I’m actually reminded tonight of some of Laird‘s issues from the mid-2000s Mirage Volume 4 series, where everyone was off on their own, so any given issue might not have much for a specific character/story but would touch base briefly on a number of characters and things going on. While I would certainly like to see “more,” as a single-issue of a monthly title in the midst of its largest arc yet, this is about as good as it gets. I grouse about other publishers double-shipping titles, and yet I would–on the level of quality the TMNT books have been carrying–gladly follow a weekly series even with the $3.99 cover price.

The art is consistent and overall quite good. There are times I’m a bit distracted at the turtles’ faces, but that’s just the shaping in this depiction…it’s a bit different and slightly cartooney, yet not bad, and other than momentary distraction I really do like this visual take on the characters. The humans–and I’m struck especially by April–look great in this issue, and I’m glad this mega-arc at least is maintaining the consistent visuals (with art variances coming with the Villains Micro-Series that ties in to “current events”).

This is part 5 of City Fall, so in and of itself isn’t the best jumping-on point: the issue’s action all comes from events previously established both throughout the first four chapters of the story and the IDW TMNT continuity as a whole. However, I do believe IDW‘s keeping to the 4-issue TPBs, so this should be the first single issue after the newest TPB volume, and in that regard this would be a handy jumping on point.

Despite being only one of about 10 issues I bought this week, this was top of the stack–ahead, even, of the one DC Villains Month issue I’ve most anticipated (Batman/Superman 3.1: Doomsday #1)–and despite my intent to save the issue to read later, found myself taking an extended lunch break (the bulk of the break having been spent going to the shop to purchase all these comics) to read this issue.

TMNT is consistently one of the most anticipated issues of the month for me, and seems to always leave me having enjoyed the given issue while anxiously looking forward to getting the next issue…something that is an unfortunate rarity in this day and age.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #25 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw025City Fall, part four

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Layouts: Kevin Eastman
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee & Tom Long
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Mateus Santolouco
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

City Fall is shaping up to be one of THE epic TMNT stories, certainly a worthy rival to the classic City at War story that ran in the original TMNT series back in 1992/1993. This issue marks the halfway point of the story, and I’m extremely interested in what comes next!

Raphael–distraught over his role in Casey getting hurt and Leonardo’s being taken by the Foot–is out busting heads, hoping to find the Foot so he can atone for his mistake by rescuing Leo himself. Donatello talks to Casey on the phone, updating him on what’s going on…Raph’s out, and Splinter’s disappeared with Slash on some personal mission. Don and Mikey are heading out to search for Raph. April and Casey have a moment as we see their relationship continuing to bloom. Splinter meets with Old Hob to enlist aid in rescuing his son. Meanwhile, we see Leo as Shredder’s #2, his “Chunin,” and Karai isn’t impressed.

I recall several panels jumping out at me as the turtles looking kinda strange, which momentarily took me out of the story. However, on giving myself an extra moment to take stuff in, they actually fit with the rest…there were just details I’d not really noticed that I suddenly did (particularly the raggedness of the turtles’ masks, which makes sense and I like…it’s not like they’re going to some shop and buying perfectly manufactured masks or anything!). Overall I’m continuing to really enjoy Santolouco’s art, and very much appreciating the general consistency to the look of this title for this arc at least.

Story-wise, I continue to be fascinated by the possibilities of character growth, development, and change. As this is a relatively new continuity unbeholden to older material (but drawing organically from everything that’s come before and reworking it to fit together), I can see so much potential to things, which pleasantly derails any concrete expectations I might have. At the very least I anticipate this arc having drastic long-reaching impact on Leonardo moving forward as well as tricky consequences for Splinter, and likely long-term stuff for Casey.

It also appears that we’re about to have the introduction of a couple ‘classic’ very popular characters from the original TMNT cartoon brought fully into this continuity, and while I can mostly do without the idea of them, I have faith that they’ll be worked into this continuity quite well and be as different as Cobra Commander in the GI Joe comics was to the cartoon counterpart of that series…or at least, I really hope that’s the case!.

If you’ve read through to the prior issue, I see nothing in particular to this issue to give reason not to pick it up. 

I believe I saw solicitation text somewhere showing that IDW is continuing to collect every 4 issues into new paperbacks, so a new volume with the interlude between the Krang War and City Fall, as well as the first 3 chapters of City Fall itself should be available soon…which would make this a decent jumping-on point if you’re following the series in trades and are looking for a point to jump into the single issues.

And while you’ll certainly benefit from a larger context having read much of the earlier material, if you’re just looking for a solid, major TMNT story…for being 4 chapters in of an expected 7, I highly recommend this!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #22 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw022City Fall, Part One
Story: 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

Once I originally discovered the original Mirage TMNT comics and could be officially considered “into” them, THE major TMNT story was City at War, beginning with the big #50 issue that saw the return of Eastman and Laird–the characters’ creators–simultaneously to the title. The arc continued for the next 12 issues; 13 chapters in all…easily the largest single arc in the characters’ history to that point.

Now, after five 4-issue arcs and several mini-series, we begin what’s being billed as the largest-yet arc for this current IDW run: City Fall. I’m almost certain the title is MEANT to recall City at War, just by its name…and reading this issue, I can see a sort of thematic connection already. I don’t recall–if I even ever “knew”–how long this arc’s intended to be, but for some reason I have “7” on the brain.

Raphael and Casey are out and about, checking on Casey’s dad…when they’re ambushed by the Foot. Raph escapes, but is unable to take Casey with him–he quickly returns to his brothers, anxious to get back out and rescue his friend. While a rescue mission is mounted, the turtles and Splinter are dismayed at the presence of Shredder himself…a situation that–coupled with Raph’s uncontrolled rage–leaves the entire turtle-family in a far less than ideal situation by issue’s end.

Visually, I enjoyed this issue more than I thought I would. I don’t recall having any real issue with Santolouco‘s art on the Secret History of the Foot Clan mini, and his style works well here. Coupled with the consistency of Pattison‘s colors, this fits in very well with established IDW TMNT visuals; and aside from one panel toward the end of the issue, I have no trouble following the story visually.

The story itself seems to be–based on the credits–a sort of “story by committee,” and if this were DC or Marvel I might be quite concerned to see the book’s editor in the story credits. But I’m already used to seeing both Eastman (co-creator of the characters!) and Waltz credited together…and with Curnow’s history with this property, it makes sense for involvement there as well.

I definitely find myself enjoying the use of continuity…it’s been frustrating in its own way having such short, clipped arcs of “only” 4 issues apiece (notable by the collected volumes popping out every few months). But we’re treated to stuff coming out of the various arcs, as opposed to some floating, “timeless” standalone arc that could happen at “any time.” Recurring characters and events/references come from the various Micro-Series issues and even last year’s phenomenal Annual.

From this issue alone, the story actually feels bigger…and we get a potentially major event in this issue to kick things off with pretty high stakes–I don’t know exactly what to expect going forward…but whatever happens, this issue will certainly be one ripe for lots of further reference as we continue on with this continuity.

The issue’s certainly a treat to me, having been following the entirety of the IDW TMNT continuity since it began a couple years ago…I could say this is my favorite issue of the week, but that’d be a bit misleading, as this is the ONLY new comic I bought this week: the TMNT are a core part of my comics buying, and visiting the comic shop for this single issue–where in the past I’ve skipped a week due to there only being 2 issues of anything out–was totally worthwhile. I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue!

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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