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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #73 [Review]

tmnt_idw_0073The Trial of Krang, Part One

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams
Cover: Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: August 2017
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s been awhile since I reviewed an issue of this series. [ Note: yeah, the last issue I reviewed was #44, back in 2015! ] And a lot has happened over these last 30 issues or so, including the apparent death of Shredder, and the book feeling a lot like a new volume of a series since then. But perhaps most significant for this issue–this is the first TMNT comic series to hit #73! The second volume of Tales of the TMNT ended at #70 back in 2010 (though apparently there was a foreign-published ~100-copies issue put out as a #71, but that’s for another post entirely), and the Archie-published TMNT Adventures ended at #72 back in 1995. The original volume of TMNT, that started everything, ended at #62 back in 1993.

Over the past six years, 73 issues of this title, numerous mini-series, several specials, and a year of a monthly companion title, we’ve had the development of probably the richest, deepest TMNT continuity to date, with this series’ creators drawing in elements from pretty much every previous iteration of the series–be that comics, cartoon, movie, and even the (as of August 2017) current animated series.

The cover itself is a bit of a celebratory thing: we see the turtles standing triumphantly, crowds of (alien) people cheering them from all around, as they stand open in the city. Granted, this is an alien city, and not Earth, but hey…it works. And on the "meta" level, the celebration is also appropriate AS celebrating this being the longest-running TMNT comic ever (at least numerically), with no signs of slowing down.

Opening the issue, we see Krang–who outside of the FCBD 2017 issue, I don’t think we’ve seen in a couple years at least–firming stuff up with an assassin, as he sits in a guarded cell awaiting his trial. Neutrinos arrive on Earth to get the turtles and Fugitoid back to Smada city, where they’re surprised to come face to face with Leatherhead! After some initial testiness, the situation is explained as to why he’s there and that they’re all on the same side…for now. The Neutrino Royal Family celebrates the turtles as heroes of the Krang War in a huge gathering that they weren’t expecting. Later, they get a smaller, more private time with them, where they learn of other problems approaching…like Maligna and her Malignoids, seeking to fill the power vacuum left without General Krang. The group is joined by Counselor Apap, who reveals how important it is for the turtles and Professor Honeycutt (the Fugitoid) to retrieve the key witnesses…without them, they don’t have nearly what’s needed to keep Krang locked away! However, Krang’s assassin Hakk-r strikes, and Apap is killed. After a skirmish with the assassin (who escapes), it becomes the turtles’ mission to seek out the witnesses, as Honeycutt must remain behind…he’s suddenly become one of the most valuable players in things himself, with Apap gone…so the turtles head off to collect the witnesses.

This issue is really, truly, things Done Right, to me! If you’d told me several years ago I’d like the Neutrinos in a modern context, I’d’ve been quite skeptical. As they are here, in this series…I quite enjoy them! I "hear" echoes of the classic cartoon iterations of the characters, but really dig this series’ reinterpretation and presentation of them…and their society. I also really like that this Krang is a much deeper character with a fleshed-out background (compared to the cartoon, anyway!) and seems much more capable, and highly dangerous…far more of a threat than "just" some recurring, bumbling villain.

Visually, while this issue’s art is by Cory Smith rather than Mateus Santolouco, it’s similar enough to avoid being jarring, and is really some beautiful stuff! Over the years, I’ve gotten very used to radically differing visual interpretations of the turtles, so that in itself rarely bothers me. Having the art so similar is a real treat, and to be singularly attractive in itself is even better!

The issue’s story is also quite a treat to me…I really like that we’re (finally!) getting back to more "familiar" territory, while pushing the overall narrative FORWARD. I often complain about repetition and titles not "letting _____ go" and such…but the way Shredder was developed, and Krang, I very much like stories with them in this iteration of the TMNT. Having had what in some ways has felt very "generic" villains/antagonists for a couple years, it’s really great to have this picking bac up on stuff that I’ve missed.

Having recently been excited at the introduction of more classic Mutanimals characters (Jagwar and Dreadmon) being introduced (reinterpreted) into current IDW continuity, I’m also very excited at the prospect of what seems to be on the immediate horizon, with a couple of very recognizable "cameos" in this issue (that I presume will be touched on at length in the TMNT: Dimension X mini-series) and an outright mention of another "classic" villain that I believe may come into play next issue, given the "Next issue" box at the end of this issue.

While this may not be an ideal "jumping on" point for someone unfamiliar with the characters, it’s definitely a great point to come back if you haven’t cared much for stuff the last couple years (since #50, for example). It’s also not a horrible point to jump in, though, even if you haven’t followed this title since its inception back in 2011 or such. There’s a lot of context, and if you don’t mind stories where you jump in and "figure things out" as you go, it’ll probably be fairly enjoyable.

And, as said earlier…this is the highest-numbered TMNT issue ever, so even symbolically, this series has now surpassed every previous run and can truly come into its own, pushing the TMNT property forward with a pedigree more than equal to everything else!

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Toys in the Wild – Tales of the TMNT: Super Shredder

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Several weeks ago, noticed some new TMNT toys at a local Target. They did not have all of the toys for the wave, but enough to inform me that 1. this seems to be "the" wave/theme for the year (the way the Dimension X wave had been previously) and 2. There’s a new DVD "movie" coming later this year.

While I appreciate the notion of a "movie" and some figures to tie in, I’m not all that keen on it providing for basically "just" another variant for all the turtles, along with an uglier-than-the-others Shredder.

I’m also increasingly discouraged at the absolute "love" for the ’80s animated series and seeming complete snubbing of the 2003 animated series…plus the complete lack of figures based on the IDW comic series. Or in this case, "borrowing" the "Super Shredder" concept from the TMNT II: Secret of the Ooze film (the one I associate as swerving more to the cartoon after the first’s close comic-basis).

As such, I probably won’t be buying any of these…though I could change my mind, especially once I’ve seen the movie.

Final thought before the "gallery" of figures: they all have the same card-back. There’s no "profile" for individual characters or such…nothing from the cards themselves to distinguish which character they’re from. This is something that to me takes away from the "production quality" or "presentation quality" of the line as a whole…like they’re just making generic figures, with a generic card, and tossing them out there. But I guess that’s also a topic for some other post, perhaps.

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talesoftmnt_leonardo

talesoftmnt_donatello

talesoftmnt_michelangelo

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Still, though I don’t plan to buy any of these, I certainly applaud the use of the Tales of the TMNT phrasing/title as homage to the original comics. And for changing things up a bit.

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Hooked on the Air Bender

I tend to be a hard sell on most things. I don’t like change once I’m used to something, and I don’t tend to embrace new stuff when the old still works just as well. But once I do give something a shot, if I like it, I tend to go all-in rather quickly.

avatar_books_1_and_2_complete_collections

A couple years ago after a weekend visit with friends where we watched several “key” Dalek episodes of the current Doctor Who run, I went back and re-watched the Eccleston premiere series and then finally forged into Tennant‘s first series and far enough in to actually get hooked, and sped through the entire run before summer. A A year or so prior to that, my friends had had me watch a couple episodes, and I did watch the Eccleston series, but couldn’t get into Tennant‘s, so just let it go by the wayside.

In a similar fashion, last year the same friends had me watch a couple episodes of The Legend of Korra; and I do recall watching the final five-ish episodes of Avatar a number of years earlier. Then the weekend of the 14th they had me watch the first few episodes of Avatar…and this time it “took.”

It also helps that a couple other friends have also been “into” these and so had also had my interest up.

I don’t like Amazon Prime, and had seen the Avatar box sets at Target and already’d considered picking them up, so I did, and finished Book 1 and all of Book 2 in less than 9 days including that weekend visit with my friends.

And I’m hooked. I have every intention of getting the Complete Book 3 Collection, and then moving on to Legend of Korra…as well as likely checking out some of the comics.

Current TMNT DVDs

I’ve long since given up ‘hope’ of any “full season” DVD release, so I’ve tried to “keep up” with the partial-season releases for the current TMNT series.

So far, the latest Casey Jones one has been the best ‘bargain’ for something like $7.99 plus I got a free box of TMNT Kraft-brand mac ‘n cheese with it.

tmnt_dvds_so_far_july_2014_b

While I don’t like the partial-season releases, I have to say I prefer these ~6ish episode releases to the 3-4 episode releases of the 2003 series. Having missed a bunch of those a decade ago, I would be quite THRILLED for them to re-release that series, whether as a full series, in full seasons, or even in ~6 episode increments.

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Still…now having five of these, they’re starting to look rather cool as a mini-collection within my larger dvd collection…

TMNT at 30

While it’s just as likely that I’ve simply MISSED any such stuff already out there, it’s occurred to me that this year marks the 30th anniversary of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles!

Of course, half a decade ago at the 25th anniversary it was a huge deal for Mirage. Now just a handful of years into Viacom/Nickleodeon‘s tenure as the owners of the property, it may not seem a huge deal.

But to this fan of 25+ years…it is!tmntat30_02

I recall the 30th anniversary stuff for Spider-Man, X-Men, Avengers, etc. 35th Anniversary stuff, 40th, etc… but while those are significant milestones for THOSE characters…

The TMNT are a property created AFTER I was born. That I actually CAN reasonably fill in every last gap of the official comics and such, to have the entirety of the run (maybe not FIRST PRINTS, but I’m not concerned about which printing if I have the issue).

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So, while I’ve had plans in the past to do more specific TMNT coverage in this blog, I’d like to think I’ll get into the swing of things with more this year, outside of spotting TMNT Toys in the WIld (Squirrelanoids, Kirby Bat and Casey Joines, etc) and get to more coverage of the various comics and such…and my own “history” with the characters through the years.

As always, time will tell.

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