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TMNT Villains Micro-Series #6: Hun [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

Story: 4.5/5
Art: 4/5
Overall: 4.5/5

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TMNT Villains Micro-Series #5: Karai [Review]

tmntvillainsmicroseries005karaiWritten by: Erik Burnham
Art by: Cory Smith
Colors by: Ian Herring
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Tyler Walpole
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

I tend to use the ComixologyPull List” app these days for keeping tabs on what’s coming out in a given week that I’ll be getting (mainly to know how much the week’s likely going to take from my budget). This issue’s release surprised me, as I don’t think I’ve even seen it listed–early or delayed.

Karai visits an old mentor for counsel, and we learn through their interaction of her background. Her father was not a good steward of the Foot legacy, and she found a way to bring back the Clan’s glory. Growing up, she met her parents’ expectations by day, though by night she secretly trained herself in the ways of the ninja, and eventually learned how she could restore the Clan, resurrecting a figure from the past–one she’d come to know as “Grandfather”–Oroku Saki. In the present, though, things have gone awry, and Karai has been “replaced” as Saki’s #2, and she finds herself facing the new #2–a corrupted Leonardo.

This issue continues to illustrate how well continuity can work between creative teams and series. We get a story focused on a major character, giving us some real depth that there truthfully would not be room for in the main series, yet the story ties in very nicely with the ongoing story (City Fall) such that one reading “everything” gets the broad picture, and one simply picking this up gets “a story” in one issue.

I like learning more about Karai’s place in things…this issue drives home just how central she actually is in IDW‘s current TMNT continuity, and casts her beyond some “named figure” for the sake of a named figure being present.

I really like Smith‘s art, and aside from the story, the visuals alone were a real treat to take in. Other than this not being an Annual or graphic novel-length issue, I have nothing negative to say about the art!

Two years in–and multiple Micro-Series minis and such functionally giving two ongoing series of TMNT books is (despite the $3.99 price point) very welcome, and keeping to the quality that’s (thus far) been maintained makes me think I’d wholly welcome a third such issue each month, just to continue with new expansion of the stories and characters that much faster, as my impatience grows to have a far lengthier “history” behind us with all this.

Ultimately, that means that IDW‘s doing something very, very “right,” not only holding my interest with more than one book per month but keeping me consistently eager for more.

TMNT Villains Micro-Series #2: Baxter [Review]

tmntvillainsmicroseries002baxterScript: Erik Burnham
Art: Andy Kuhn
Colors: John Rauch
Letters: Tom B. Long
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Tyler Walpole
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

I hate the $3.99 price point. I’ve said that before, and I’ll keep saying it until it finally drives me to actually, totally give up on new comics completely. Broken record that I am, hating the price point is something that’s there, even when I don’t point it out this redundantly, even when talking about comics I otherwise enjoy.

I’m thoroughly enjoying IDW‘s TMNT reboot. I do kinda miss the classic stuff…and yet, we’re getting the monthly TMNT Color Classics series, which kinda scratches that itch. This new iteration is bringing together the strengths of numerous incarnations of the property, and making even the ridiculous, stupid stuff relevant and workable (take Krang and the Neutrinos, for just two examples). And I wish there was more. Maintaining its level of quality I’d be thrilled to have new in-continuity, pushing-the-overall-events-of-things-forward basically weekly.

But since we have a monthly title, I highly enjoy the companion series–first the “good guys” micro-series, then we had the Secret History of the Foot Clan, and now we’re getting a Villains micro-series. So I’m relatively content with that.

All of the above to get to the point here: this is another great issue of TMNT from IDW. Officially a #2 of a series spotlighting villains (the first having spotlighted Krang) this is also “the” Baxter Stockman “one-shot” or “micro series.”

We get some definite insight into Baxter here–but it continues his ongoing “subplot” in this continuity, as he works on tech stuff, assisting in the building of the Technodrome, the infamous war machine fans of the 1980s’ cartoon series will know quite well. But while the genius works on it, we see that he’s not just some simpering lackey, but has purpose behind his actions, and he’s not some fool playing into the end of the world with any true belief that he’d get anything worthwhile out of his current deal with Krang.

We see moments of Baxter’s past, his dealings with his father–who was a profound influence on him–along with the developments of the “present” plot points. We have the signature mousers about him in his lab, and we get a new toy–a “Flyborg,” a mutant fly armed with cybernetics…the fly being an almost too-obvious (to me) “nod” at the ’80s cartoon (and one that led me to fear Baxter’s fate in this issue). By the end of the issue we see Baxter’s agenda advanced, and pieces on the board have shifted ever so slightly as the ongoing battle situates itself for the larger things yet to come.

The writing keeps to the overall continuity, presents some insight into the character, and reminds me that this is a very good character, and I like it far more than I do the version displayed in the current tv series. I find Baxter far more interesting in control of himself, an intelligent (if a bit mad-scientist-y) individual, clever and not just some whining lackey or mutated bug or bumbling fool.

The art’s not entirely to my liking, though it’s not horrible. It comes off a bit cartooney, if not slightly abstract, and is done a great disservice by the fantastic cover that plants the idea of what the interior OUGHT to be. The story is conveyed and I’m not left scratching my head over what’s going on, really…but this issue definitely is carried on the strength of the story over the art.

Of course, as I’ve also stated numerous times–the TMNT get a sort of “pass” from me on things I typically won’t put up with in any other comics; one of those things is the visuals, as I’m more used to numerous visual interpretations of the characters, even issue-to-issue, due to the simple history of the characters and so many artists working on ’em.

While this issue certainly works best in context of the ongoing continuity, you still get a core story in and of itself in one issue; and if you’re following the TMNT stuff in general, this is well worth snagging.

Finally: this cover would be an excellent poster image…or at least, I’d not be opposed to having a poster of this image on my wall.

The Rest of the Stack: Week of September 5, 2012

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

THE HYPERNATURALS #3

I’m continuing to get drawn in, and the odd vocabulary elements are feeling a bit more normal. I’m liking the flashbacks that are fleshing out the present, and beginning to get a sense of the continuity that’s been built from the start of this series. You know something’s being done right when I’m interested in going back to re-read the issues so far just to appreciate the world that’s been built in such a short span of time. The story is engaging and the characters are easy enough to identify with. The art continues on a high note as well. Though I saw this issue’s end coming a couple pages early that ramped up the tension which made the cliffhanger both that much more appreciable and a bit anticlimactic, as if it ended a panel or two too soon.

BLOODSHOT #3

Three issues in, and I’m quite enjoying this series. Having figured out the art style for the flashbacks vs. the present, I quite enjoy the shifts, as we follow Bloodshot on his quest to find out the truth about his past. While he seeks his past, Project Rising Spirit is determined to remove him from the field permanently. The story kinda sucked me in on this issue; as said, recognizing flashbacks made this a much more enjoyable read and didn’t seem disruptive at all. I like both visual styles as presented here. As I keep saying, I’m enjoying this new take on a “classic” character; even knowing this isn’t the original “version” doesn’t bother me. Sort of a cross between Marvel’s Ultimate Comics line and DC‘s New 52, with the best of both worlds. Definitely looking forward to the next issue.

ARCHER AND ARMSTRONG #2

The cover to this issue puts me in mind of a cover from the early issues of the Wolverine relaunch back in ’03 or so, where we see grumpy Wolverine on the ground, a line of bullet-holes across the wall–and him; and just looking at it, you know someone’s in for a world o’ hurt. Here, we get a look at the two title characters and a scene that kinda plays on the state of things, and (at least to me) comes off as rather amusing. Archer with a crossbow, pondering the Armstrong, who he’s shot umpteen times but calmly (cheerfully, even!) drinking a beer. With his parents’ reality revealed, Archer breaks from them and decides to join Armstrong, and the two begin their quest for the parts of The Boon that are scattered throughout the world. Of course, it wouldn’t be a quest if it was easy, and things sure don’t start easy for the pair. I really like this new take on the characters–it’s fresher and somehow seems a bit more realistic than the classic. I also like that the title characters don’t spend the entire first arc or two against each other–I’m far more interested in how they handle things as a “team,” with such drastically different backgrounds, personality, and abilities. The story keeps me interested, and I like the art–and the character designs. This Armstrong looks younger–and more presentable–than the classic, and somehow, that brings more of a sense of “fun” to the title, amidst the darker, more serious elements.

TMNT MICRO-SERIES #8: FUGITOID

This issue introduces us to the Fugitoid–an alien scientist in a robot body. This issue as a whole is “the origin issue” for the Fugitoid, detailing the robot as well as Dr. Honeycutt, and the motivations that led to the Fugitoid’s situation. While the essense of the original origin is present, details have obviously been changed–and it works really well for me. The art’s pretty solid, and pulls off the “alien, yet similar to Earth” vibe. The story itself is good, though I found out after reading this that the issue spoils something from the next issue of the main TMNT title–though I didn’t feel like there was anything particularly revelatory, and actually thought this played off stuff we’ve already seen. We get a glimpse of an entire culture that works far better for me than their use in the classic cartoon–taking a campy, goofy concept and making it a valid, reasonable element for the current continuity. The issue ends with no ad for a next issue, and I’m unsure if there will be any more–the first collected volume was 4 issues, and this is the 8th–making another complete 4-issue volume. I hope these continue; as I’ve indicated before–I’d gladly keep buying this companion series to the main title, with different creative teams and spotlight characters.

TMNT COLOR CLASSICS #4

While the turtles are out searching for Splinter, they are ambushed by the Foot, who want revenge for the death of Shredder. While battling the ninjas, the turtles come across a strange building marked with the letters “TCRI”–which they recognize as the same as what was on the canister of goo that mutated them. When they investigate the building further, they find plenty of oddities, including the inhabitants of the building, and an alien device they’ve built that spells major issue for the turtles’ future. The story is fairly simple, and things kinda scoot along quickly. This is still early in the existence of the TMNT, so for me it’s more the ideas that were put forth than actual grace in execution of the story. The art’s solid, and quite a contrast to contemporary takes on the characters. Still, I like it, and it’s really cool to see this colorized in a single-issue format; if I didn’t know it started out black-and-white and had no attention called to it, I’d have a hard time believing this wasn’t a color comic to begin with. Despite the various collected volumes already out, I hope this Color Classics series lasts long enough to re-present the entire Mirage vol. 1 TMNT series…though I wouldn’t entirely mind if it skips a bunch of the middle stuff and just re-presents the “core” Eastman/Laird stuff of the first 11 issues, Micro-Series, Return to New York, and City at War arcs.

The Rest of the Stack Catch-Up: TMNT and AvX

The Rest of the Stack logo

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

It’s been a few weeks since I’ve posted much, so this is part of my “catching up” on the past month and a half or so.

TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES COLOR CLASSICS #3

I’d forgotten this issue’s story. I guess it had to be somewhere, but my memories of these early issues jump from the turtles meeting April and dealing with Stockman and the Mousers right into what is probably going to be in #4. Yet, we get some pretty important stuff going on here as the turtles find Splinter missing (possibly killed by the Mousers), and actually turn to April for help. We also get the obvious inspiration for “the Turtle Van” (but less commercial). And the issue ends with the introduction of characters that inspired one of the primary characters in the classic cartoon series. The story itself is pretty basic…nothing all that deep, but still enjoyable enough in itself. I really like the art here as it’s just “classic” for me (biased though I must admit I am). The color added blends very well with the original black and white, such that it’s hard to believe this wasn’t a color series to begin with. (7/10)

RAPHAEL #1

Beyond the first issue of the TMNT Color Classics, I wasn’t sure how IDW was going to go about reprinting these issues, and sorta feared the Micro-Series issues would be merged in with the numbering, resulting in TMNT Color Classics being its own numbering that wouldn’t correspond with the issue being reprinted. However, this issue simply reprints the Raphael issue as itself, and I love that. The issue’s story is pretty basic and cliche, lacking much of the depth that we eventually get with the characters. Casey’s introduction here doesn’t work so well for me, but every character has to start somewhere. There’s also some clunky dialogue with Raph that just doesn’t seem to fit ANY version of the character I think of. The art’s classic Eastman & Laird (duh) and looks quite good in this new colored format. (7/10)

AVX #8

This issue is largely focused on Namor, as he lays waste to Wakanda, and the Avengers dogpile him, ultimately learning some useful information about the Phoenix Force and its interaction with multiple hosts. Storywise, this was one of my least-favorite issues–but then, that’s largely because Namor’s one of my least-favorite of the Phoenix Five (coming in just behind Illyana). It’s also increasingly difficult to take the scope of this story serious in the face of ongoing stories in other books seeming to have nothing to do with what’s unfolding in AvX, and that even some of the actual tie-in books are barely pulling a “red skies” level of involvement. The art’s a mixed bag for me, with some of the pages looking good and others just looking horrendous to me. (4/10)

AVX #9

Nine issues in and there’s just enough of a “completist” in me to grin ‘n bear it: I started following this series, and now I want to finish it, just on principle of finishing it–though I dropped all the tie-ins cold-turkey due to frustration at Marvel continuing its cycle of not even letting one event finish before announcing the next, and the spoiling of the end of this series, and Marvel Now… This issue’s another beat-down issue, with the Avengers piling on Colossonaut and Magik, with Spider-Man taking the worst beating of the bunch this time. The art continues to be mixed, with some panels looking excellent while others look generic and a bit rushed by comparison. This is the three-quarters mark of the series, and I’m quite ready to get to the end. (5/10)

AVX #10

Cyclops has shown up to take Hope away from the Avengers, though she makes it clear she does not wish to go with him. Fighting breaks out, and Hope even gets to ride a dragon, before turning her powers on Cyclops with an unintended effect. After the previous issue, the Phoenix Force is all the more concentrated in Cyclops, which makes Hope’s effect all the more meaningful. With the ending of this issue actually pulling me back into stuff and looking forward with interest to seeing how this story’s going to conclude. (6.5/10)

TMNT Micro-Series #6: Casey Jones [Review]


Full review posted to cxPulp.com
.

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

The Rest of the Stack: Week of June 20, 2012

The Rest of the Stack is my general mini-review coverage of new comics for any given week. It’s in addition to (or in place of) full-size individual reviews. It’s far less formal, and more off-the-top-of-my head thoughts on the given comics than it is detailed reviews.

TMNT MICRO-SERIES #5: SPLINTER

In a way, the numbering on this series is funky. Instead of “just” a bunch of one-shots, this is being treated as a series of its own, just with a different character focus in each issue. It’s a nitpicky detail, but one that I’ve noticed. Still…quite enjoying the extra dose of story and the look at stuff from each character’s perspective. This Splinter issue delves a lot more into the new origin of these characters, shedding light on his past as Hamato Yoshi, and his relationship with Oroku Saki. This issue takes place within the current TMNT arc, where Splinter is being forced to fight for his life–as he contemplates what it all means, his past lends strength to his choice. This may not be the greatest jumping-in point for a new reader, but if you’re already enjoying the TMNT stuff from IDW, this is well worth snagging. I’m a little uneasy with the emphasis on elements of the new origin, but I’m curious to see where it goes, and it works much more for me than what was talked of for a certain live-action film. The art worked for the issue…nothing overly special, but nothing bad, either. (8/10).

WALKING DEAD #99

There’s not much to say about this issue. It’s another chapter. It’s the last chapter before the huge #100 issue. Though I’ve gone back and forth between singles and trades, I remember when the series was barely hitting #50…I’ve actually been reading since just after the 5th collected volume came out, around the time #32 or 33 would’ve been just out. So I’ve been “into” this for almost 70% of its run. The art’s the usual; nothing new there. Story-wise, it’s interesting seeing the various character interactions, and I love the consistency of tone to everything as a whole. In some ways it’s kind of amazing to see where things have come, especially looking at the tv series now. This arc’s covers remind me a bit of the “No One is Safe” arc in the mid-40s, and makes me wonder if this’ll be the next big shakeup. Not really a good jumping-on issue, but definitely a good continuing issue…though as always, stuff like this seems to read best in bigger chunks. (8/10)

AVENGERS VS. X-MEN #6

Finally at the half-way point of this series. Originally I was gonna avoid it, then I was gonna check it out. Then I decided what the hey–I’ll go all-in. Something about it made it seem different to me, from all the other recent events. But with this issue, we’ve hit what I’ve been somewhat afraid of: the world itself has been altered…and yet, it’s only reflected in a handful of titles. Wolverine’s own book doesn’t seem affected, not all the X-books seem to be affected, basically the bulk of the Marvel Universe is continuing as if something of this scale wasn’t going on. The build-up stuff, sure…that works, as characters are always in conflict. But the world’s been radically changed as of this issue…but it’s such a self-contained world that it seems hardly believable, and thus weakens the event and lessens the impact for me as a whole. I’m digging the Phoenix Five’s costumes, and I love the concept coming out of this story…it just doesn’t seem to be set in the main Marvel Universe anymore, somehow. Looking forward to what’s coming up, though, to see what happens, and see what this whole “No More Avengers” really means. Story in itself is good; art’s not bad. (7/10)

UNCANNY X-MEN #14

Now, I learned a lot from this issue. The last I recall seeing of Sinister, we had Ms. Sinister or whatever. Finding a whole society of Sinisters, with their own Victorian cityscape was quite a bit to take…and yet it seems to fit right into the “big concept” tone of the relaunched X-Men stuff (This title and Wolverine and the X-Men). While this is set within the overall AvX stuff, this issue is quite a stand-alone side-story…if you’re a fan of Mr. Sinister, and/or apparent recent stuff with Sinister, this is definitely an issue worth getting. At the same time, if you’re unfamiliar with recent stuff…this may be a good point to jump in and learn of the new status quo. The primary point of view character raises some interesting points, and the end was disturbing yet fitting. The last page in particular leaves me eager to see where this plot is going, whatever AvX has…and while I still detest the renumbering, I begin to much more seriously consider investing in checking out recent X-Stuff, at least back to the start of the relaunch. I enjoyed the art and the story here, and while it hardly seems to justify the AvX banner…I’m mostly glad it had the banner as that’s what I’m looking for in my increasingly foolish quest for the full AvX experience. (9/10)

SECRET AVENGERS #28

This issue seems to be one of the more “important” issues of the tie-ins, at least in that I can see where this is prologue for other stuff…particularly the upcoming Carol Danvers as Captain Marvel Captain Marvel series. In that way this arc has somewhat been like a “backdoor pilot.” I have just enough background knowledge of things that I greatly appreciated the bit with Binary, and the visual was sufficiently reminiscent of something I’ve read with her in the past. I was also not at all shocked at Captain Marvel himself, except the very end which was a little creepy and disturbing while also being slightly hopeful, at least symbolically. Still not a huge fan of the art for this series/arc in general, but I think it worked better for me in this issue than the last several. (8/10)

AVENGERS ACADEMY #32

I didn’t care quite as much for the art in this issue as the last several…but it was still quite good. That, added to a solid story and reasonable cover price, and I have to say this will be a title I stick with beyond AvX if I stick wtih any. I haven’t read all of the Sentinel stuff, but I love the reintroduction to that concept this issue is for me, especially after making the connection last issue or the one before. While some may argue with my analogy, I found myself easily able to identify with Juston by likening the sentinel to a pet, such as a cat–the way I often find that it seems many don’t quite “get” or understand what (a cat) can be to someone though the cat is not human. Before I ramble much longer: very good issue that makes great use of the status quo created by the event without being just “the next chapter” or such. This is the first of a two-issue arc, so if you know the characters or just want to check things out, this is like a mini jumping-on point within the larger context. Highly recommended. (9.5/10)

NEW AVENGERS #27

This issue finally brings the arc full circle, showing what may have happened with the old Iron Fist that last encountered the Phoenix, as well as putting some stuff out to Hope. The involvement of Spider-Man seemed sorta strange, and yet I loved his interaction with Hope. The last several issues definitely gave deeper context, but in some ways it felt like this issue stood alone a bit more and so long as one knows THAT there’s much more detail if desired, you could probably get away with enjoying this issue without anything else. While it may just be the Spider-Man factor, the Spidey/Hope scene toward the end was maybe the most interested in Hope I’ve been in awhile. It’s nice to see an arc that’s not 6 issues long…and yet the danger with concluding a tie-in arc at this point is that it would be relatively easy enough to consider this month the wrap-up point of this exercise in completism and bail on at least some of the tie-ins. (8.5/10)

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