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Tales of the TMNT #32 [Review]

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Quick Rating: Very Good–Fun!
Story Title: The Eye of Aga-Moo-Tou

Summary: The TMNT and the C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa team up again to tackle the threat posed by Savanti Romero gaining access to the Eye of Aga-Moo-Tou.

talesofthetmnt032 Plot: Laird & Brown
Words: Murphy
Layouts: Ryan Brown
Pencils: Dario Brizuela
Inks: Joe Rubinstein
Letters: Eric Talbot
Editor, Creative Consultant: Peter Laird
Managing Editor: Murphy
Production, Design: Eric Talbot
Covers: (main): Dario Brizuela, (variant): Andres Ponce, Ryan Brown, Steve Lavigne
Publisher: Mirage

Despite never having been a fan of the C.O.W. Boys (I was aware of them briefly in the 90s, but never "into" them), this is great fun. We get those characters back, interacting side-by-side with the TMNT in a way that makes perfect sense in the TMNT-verse, and is just…fun.

A nearly-immortal figure locates the mystical Eye of Aga-Moo-Tou, though the Eye is also located by old TMNT villain Savanti Romero. Meanwhile, at Moo Mesa, the C.O.W. Boys are going about their regular business, when things go all wacky thanks to Romero. Back on Earth, Tsou-T’an-Jin makes contact with and transports the turtles to Moo Mesa, where they find their old friends mind-controlled/possessed by Romero, and the battle for the Eye is joined…

At its surface, this is a rather simple, stereotypical story…mega-powerful mystical artifact located by a villain, first protagonists on the scene defeated and turned on second-wave fellow heroes, yadda yadda yadda. Then again, it really isn’t much deeper than that, if you look strictly at story elements. The fun and enjoyment comes from the specific characters–here, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles AND the C.O.W. Boys of Moo Mesa thrust together in a single story.

The story flows, hitting key beats of structure. Not being terribly familiar with all the characters, I can’t say for certain that everyone’s in-character; the turtles seem to be right on track, so I presume the COW Boys are, too..and given that (as far as I can tell) original creators of all characters involved are…well…involved with this issue, I’ve no reason to believe this does anything but fit both sides of the "crossover" of the properties.

The art throughout is just fine, with all the characters being totally recognizable, and panels clear/clean as to what’s going on. This isn’t just some comic adaptation of a cartoon, but it’s also not one of the darker, gritter of the TMNT stories.
For jumping in cold and just wanting "a" TMNT story, this is a great issue to do so with, and it’s even kid-friendly on the whole–probably moreso than a certain teen wizard’s exploits, for point of comparison.

The great thing about this title is that it features a monthly supply of in-continuity TMNT stories by a variety of writers and artists that include stories set in the characters’ past, present, and future, as well as easily contain property crossovers like we have here. While many titles from bigger publishers might suffer from radical shifts in creative teams from issue-to-issue on writing and visuals, it’s become a sort of staple for this book.

If you can find it, I highly recommend this issue…and really, the series in general for any of you longer-time TMNT fans.

Ratings:

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

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Tales of the TMNT #70 [Review]

Return to New York, book 1.5: Zog

Plot: Eric Talbot and Jim Lawson
Script/Pencils: Jim Lawson
Inks/Tones/Letters: Eric Talbot
Frontispiece: Michael Dooney
Cover: Jim Lawson, Eric Talbot and Steve Lavigne
Published by: Mirage Publishing

Refusing to wait for his brothers, Raphael returns to the NYC sewers, where he promptly encounters a Triceraton. Upon waking from the beating inflicted, he finds himself prisoner of Zog, along with a Foot ninja. Though technically enemies, the Turtle and Foot realize they’re not gonna get free of this alone, and must work together…though after a bit of cooperation, their relationship tanks pretty quickly. When their captor returns, Raph takes advantage of the alien dinosaur’s deteriorating mental state by donning the skull of the dead Triceraton commander. With this guise, he convinces Zog that he’s needed for a final mission that involves helping the turtles.

I can’t be certain without digging out the original Return to New York arc…but this reads as slightly more refined than that. But then, it’s coming nearly two decades later, and the Mirage talent has had plenty of time to grow and refine their work since the original story. Also, this is written by Lawson & Talbot rather than Eastman & Laird, so has that slightly different feel. Despite that, this does not feel out of place in and of itself, and I greatly enjoyed the return to such a key story. The “voice” of the characters fits, and while the opening pages provide some context and serve to differentiate this from the early TMNT issues, there’s nothing that I can recall that this contradicts.

The Lawson/Talbot art seems pretty much standard-TMNT to me…really, the standard, to where other artists’ work on the characters has been the variance and different interpretations. While the visuals don’t exactly match what I recall of the original story, that’s fine by me. The art fits the story, conveys what’s going on, and it’s the story itself that makes the issue fit, the art just conveys this specific chapter.

This seems a fitting send-off to this long-running title. Though this is the final issue, its predecessor felt like much more of a final issue. This fits between-issues of the 1980s Return to New York arc when the turtles returned from Northampton and confronted the resurrected Shredder after their sound defeat months earlier. One of the best final touches to the issue is that rather than ship with different editions, each with a different cover (as virtually every other comic publisher seems wont to do these days), this issue ships with a “variant version” on the front, and the “standard” cover on the back…and Mirage gets loads of credit from me for that. This “variant” cover takes on the trade dress of the Return to New York arc–this’ll fit nicely in the longbox with that story and not look out of place–while the standard cover on the back carries the contemporary trade dress/logo.

This issue may whet your appetite for the full Return to New York story if you’re just checking this out or otherwise are not familiar with this key story from the original Mirage run of TMNT. If you’re already familiar with that story, this should be that much more of a treat.

I wouldn’t recommend this issue as a single issue to start with…but otherwise, it’s well worth tracking down…particularly if you’re familiar with the early Mirage TMNT stories.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Overall: 8/10

Tales of the TMNT #69 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

Tales of the TMNT #67 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

The Rest of the Stack: Two Weeks of Other Books I’ve Read

Due to hitting the busy season at work, I basically took a week off from reviewing. With the Thanksgiving holiday, I’ve had a chance to catch up a bit. As usual, these are mini/”capsule” reviews of books I picked up but am not writing out a full review for. This post is double-sized due to covering TWO weeks’ worth of books.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Special #1
This issue’s a real treat. For the same price as a black-and-white issue of Tales of the TMNT, the issue is full-color. Best of all, it’s the classic #1 issue, now in color for the first time as a comic. (It’s been colorized at least once before, in the First graphic novel Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Book I). The coloring looks quite natural, and it would have been awesome to see the original series re-issued in color…or at least, the first ten issues, the one-shots for each turtle, and Return to New York. For that matter, City at War as well. As-is, at the very least, this is a nice version of #1 to add to one’s collection without breaking the bank. Highly recommended for any TMNT fan, or anyone curious as to how the turtles’ story got started.

Deadpool: Merc With a Mouth #5
This issue continues the story of Deadpool, Zombie-head Deadpool and Dr. Betty facing Hydra agents trying to kill them to get the head themselves. A bit of cheesecake art to the issue, but that can be overlooked for an excellent scene in which Deadpool and Bill (not Bob–he insists he’s Bill, though Deadpool can’t seem to really tell the difference from his old buddy) have an exchange over the Star Wars series of movies. Suffice to say that reading this, one knows exactly where Deadpool stands regarding the trilogies. Overall another fun issue. I’m pretty sure the story wraps with issue 6, so at this point if you aren’t already following the book or able to get the first few issues, you’re probably just as well to wait for a collected edition. The story so far definitely seems well worthwhile for Deadpool fans, whichever way the story’s read.

Supergirl #47
This issue provides a good deal of backstory to Alura, and her courtship by Zor-El. We also see the character FINALLY acting out of real motivation that can be understood, instead of just coming off as a near-villainous witch of a character. Reactron is put on trial, and Alura is determined that he will be tried justly and not simply killed out of vengeance-seeking. Unfortunately, her fellow New Kryptonians don’t all share the sentiment, leading to some interesting character development. Though Supergirl is present in these pages, this is very much Alura’s story, with her daughter playing a minor role. The end of the issue has an interesting (in a way) revelation that does seem par for the course. Not a bad issue, but not wonderful. If you’re already following the title and/or the over-arching story in the Super-books, this’ll be just fine. It’s not really an issue to entice new readers, I don’t think. Not sure if it’s significant or just an oversight on someone’s part, but the cover lacks the “World Against Superman” banner the titles have been carrying lately, though this retains the red-shield numbering begun with August’s Codename: Patriot arc.

Flash: Rebirth #5
I’m pretty sure this started out as a 5-issue mini-series…I recall it seeming slightly “off” as I recalled Green Lantern: Rebirth being 6, and thinking the two ought to be pretty much the same length. This issue sees all the various speedsters team up, as well as a development that presumably “solves” whatever issue it was Wally’s kids were having with their powers…and we seem to have a new Impulse (given Bart gave up the identity to become Kid Flash back in 2003). This continues the “legacy” aspect of the Flash line. There’s a revelation that affects Barry’s past…as well as a very specific threat to his past. This is a sorta interesting issue, but on the whole, continues to be more “miss” than “hit” for me. GL: Rebirth dispelled my unease toward returning a long-dead character to an old status quo and really set up a great new status quo that worked everyone into the mix. This Flash: Rebirth has not at all sold me on any “WHY” Barry needs to be back, and simply puts things logically into place to ALLOW for the character being back, and incorporating pretty much everything else involving the Flash family of characters. Recommended if you’ve already invested in the first 4 issues of the series.

Uncle Scrooge #385
It’s great to be able to pick up this series now. I’d bought maybe 3 issues several years ago while it was being put out by Gemstone, but simply could not justify the $8 per issue, even if it was squarebound and double-ish-sized. This issue is fairly low-key, picking up from the previous issue. Scrooge, Donald, and the nephews continue to deal with Magica as she tries for Scrooge’s Number One Dime. Once things are wrapped up at the mine, Scrooge & Co. wind up looking for sunken treasure, and dealing with Magica AND the Beagle Boys. While not the greatest of comics, this is still a good, fun issue, and well worth getting if you’ve any interest in these characters.

Archie #603
The “Wedding Story” has taken a twist I didn’t expect: rather than being a 6-part exploration of Archie marrying Veronica, after 3 issues of that the story has switched to give us the story of what would happen if Archie married Betty instead. I’m really enjoying this “longform” story that not only takes more than a page to tell, but multiple issues. I’ve picked up the occasional Archie book through the years…but with stories like this, I might just stick around on a monthly basis.

Superman #694
This issue sees Mon-El’s “official” return to action as he re-reveals himself to the people who’ve thought him dead for awhile. This also debuts the “new” costume…which honestly seems a non-issue to me, despite the big deal being made of it. On the whole, it looks to me like the only difference is that Mon-El is now sporting a small “S-shield,” as he’s holding Superman’s place…and Blue shorts to contrast with the red costume (sort of a reverse-Superman color scheme). Probably the best part of the issue is the interaction with Connor and Ma, showing that Mon has a place within the Superman family of characters.

Image United #1
I have mixed feelings on this book. For one thing, something of this scale ought to have a huge multi-panel fold-out cover, such that all the primary characters are spotlighted…instead of one having to choose one of six segments of the picture as the cover to purchase. I chose the Savage Dragon segment, that character long being one of my favorite characters that I rarely read, though the Spawn cover was cool, too. The “jam session” of having each character’s creator doing that character’s visuals is a very cool thing, and a different take on doing a crossover project. The story itself seems to be a slow build and full of little but action (presumably to show off the blending of the different art styles). Being familiar with these characters for the past 16-17 years, the blended style worked well, and nothing really seemed all that jarring. Since this will surely be collected into a single volume eventually and my proclivity toward this type of variant/alternate covers…I’ll probably pass on the subsequent issues and snag the collected volume when that comes out, if I still have enough interest.

Son of Marvel Reading Chronology
This is one of those freebies that Marvel puts out on occasion, to try to hook one on buying more product. While I prefer the “Saga” issues (they’re free, and take far, far longer to read than any other single comics, and fill me in on stuff so I know what’s up overall without having to keep up on Marvel’s output in general), this guide is rather informative, showing what volumes are out there, in-print…and what they collect. As well as, of course, the order to read them for a chronological reading experience in-continuity. If nothing else, this has informed me that there are currently 10 hardcovers collecting Ultimate Spider-Man, so I know there are only 5 left that I want to try to track down. This is definitely a worthwhile guide if you can find it and not have to pay for it…or at least, please don’t pay much for it, as It is SUPPOSED to be FREE.

Tales of the TMNT #64 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

Tales of the TMNT #61 [Review]

Full review posted to comixtreme.com.

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

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