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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.

The Weekly Haul – Week of August 19, 2015

As new comics go, this was a very small week, with only two new TMNT books:

weekly_haul_20150819a

I also hit the quarter-bins, where along with far more X-Men books than I’d had any intention of buying in one shot, I also snagged a couple of key Superman issues:

superman01s_and_aos424_quarterbin

Being what they are, and for the price, I wasn’t gonna leave these sitting in the bin. I have tentative plans for one of the Superman #1s and Adventures of Superman #424 for sure.

Hard to believe TMNT is about to hit its 50th issue. I’ve been keeping up with it since #1…

#NotAtComicCon (But Got Archie #1 and TMNT vol. 1)

Comic Con is going on right now, and I’m not there. Still, I don’t have to be in San Diego to buy comics, comics related stuff, or be cool with what I have locally.

Tonight, for instance, I swung by Books-A-Million and wound up with an unexpected comic purchase; and this week a TMNT book I’ve been waiting a number of months to see released and actually acquire the thing is finally in my possession.

I completely did NOT realize the new Archie #1 was out this week. I’m not sure if it sold out or wasn’t ordered or who-knows-what-all at the comic shop, but I figured I’d duck into another shop this weekend to get the issue, or just not worry about it at all. With local construction/traffic issues, it’s not worth going back to the usual shop “just” for the one single issue when another shop is about 2 minutes out of my way on its own or just across the street from a Target I frequent.

I stopped into Books-A-Million, and while standing in line to check out, spotted an Archie comic.

archievol2bamvariant001

Now, much as I hate variant covers (and this is obviously the Books-A-Million-exclusive variant), I saw the price sticker was $3.99–same cover price I’d pay at a comic shop–in a sea of BAM variants priced $1-$3 above standard-cover cover price. And rather than have to go outta my way (I was already there with this thing right in front of me), I figured I’d suck it up and buy this…I’ve near zero intention of following the single issues, but I’m quite curious about the story content of the issue. So…we’ll see what I wind up with.

tmnt_the_idw_collection_vol_1_b

I first saw an ad for this TMNT book very early in 2015 saying it was due out in March, but seemed it was delayed at least a couple months. I finally saw it on Amazon for a really good price (about 48% off!) and pulled the trigger.

tmnt_the_idw_collection_vol_1_a

It was actually that ad, the pending existence of this oversized hardcover edition collecting 17 issues (just over 4 paperbacks’ worth of content) that instantly soured me on the expensive, skinny 4-issue paperbacks IDW insists on holding to.

This volume contains the first 12 issues of the ongoing series, the first 4-issue “Micro Series,” and the first issue of the second “Micro series.” It’s hardback, has the issues in story-order (the “Micro Series” issues taking place amidst events of and influencing the main title) and even has a bound-in ribbon as a bookmark, plus the cover images.

A far superior format and presentation (overall) to the paperbacks, and if I’m gonna “multi-dip” and get the singles as they come out and then a collected format for the bookshelf…I’m darned well gonna stick with this format!

And for the price…I seriously doubt any dealers in San Diego would beat this…or even match it.

Frustration With Blind Boxes – The Loyal Subjects MMPR and TMNT

I’m not a huge fan of "blind box" things…I’d rather know exactly what I’m buying. But sometimes they can be kinda fun, especially when the odds of getting at least one that I want from a line is pretty good.

I recently bought one each of the Loyal Subjects‘ "Action VInyls" blindboxes TMNT and MIghty Morphin’ Power Rangers lines.

loyal_subjects_tmnt_01

Overall, there’s a 50% chance of getting one of the turtles themselves in the TMNT line, as all 4 are each 2/16 for a total of 8/16 rarities…

loyal_subjects_tmnt_02

I’m still missing Casey from the Funko Mystery Minis line, so at least having this version would be cool. And thanks to some NON-blind keychains, I know Splinter and Shredder would be cool to have…withOUT a chain coming from the back of their heads.

loyal_subjects_MMPR_01

On the Power Rangers side, though I’d prefer Green or Red, Blue or Pink wouldn’t be bad, and even Yellow would be cool for at least being one of the Rangers.

loyal_subjects_MMPR_02

Goldar would be cool as well…at least in appearance…and Lord Zedd would be quite cool, as far as I’m concerned.

For the MMPR line, the Black Ranger is 1/24, with a 1/48 White Ranger, and a 1/96 Red Ranger with Green Ranger gold shield. The odds certainly would not be in my favor whatsoever to get those (of those I’d want the White Ranger.

For the TMNT line, I believe there are also "chase" rare figures, but with the higher-than-1/16 rarity, again with the odds not being at all in my favor so not really a consideration.

Of all of the 2/16 figures for TMNT, the only one I really would not be interested in having as a lone/single figure is Karai.

And of all of the 2/16 figures for MMPR, the only one I really would not be interested in (lone/single or otherwise) is Rita.

I bought one single box from each line.

loyal_subjects_rita_and_karai

I should have just bought the TMNT Party Wagon or Batman ’66 Batmobile from the Funko Pops line, for the money I spent on these.

Free Comic Book Day 2015 – A Few Issues’ Thoughts

Free Comic Book Day was this past Saturday, and I picked up a number of issues. Rather than attempt to write up single posts for each FCBD issue, here are some of the ones I’ve had a chance to read so far and my thoughts on them.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles FCBD 2015

fcbd2015_tmntI think this is the one I was looking forward to MOST of all the FCBD issues this year. And truthfully, I was not particularly disappointed. We get an all-new story–an in-continuity continuation of things that seems to fit within the present–it does not spoil the Mutanimals stuff, and takes place after TMNT #45, which works well with me getting it 3 days after #45. The art fits right in with the main series itself, so doesn’t even stick out. This isn’t some integral issue to stuff–I’m pretty sure one will be able to read the ongoing without ever knowing they missed this, but reading this will give newer readers some context of recent events and even core tidbits going back to the start of the IDW continuity. A lot of the issue is contextual exposition that I’m not used to seeing in the series…but given the nature of this it works very well for me, and I think would give the newer readers enough to contextualize the current story while teasing the detailed nuances of the actual stories that came before so one might seek those out.

The Tick FCBD 2015

fcbd2015_tickI remember watching and enjoying the animated Tick series Saturday mornings back in the day…scary to think it’s been 20-some years! Sadly I can’t really clearly remember the characters’ "conversational" voices in my head. This was still a quick, fun issue for the most part–the first story with Tick and Arthur dealing with a giant creature eating the city, and the third story with them being distracted by one threat or adventure after another, keeping them from holding a spot in line for the art museum. The middle story wasn’t really to my taste, explaining some of Tick’s time blacked out, apparently from an old #1 issue. Probably a lot more fun for long-time fans of the COMICS, but it means nothing to me not having read those. The art’s good, and the stories fun, and the price was certainly right. As "just" a fun FCBD issue, this is definitely worth reading, and I enjoyed reading it.

Secret Wars #0

fcbd2015_marvelsecretwarsMarvel’s hype-machine has certainly done its job…at least in getting me to where I’d actually be interested in getting a copy of this free issue (at a $4 discount from USUAL Marvel pricing!) The cover particularly stands out to me. However, I am not at all impressed by the interior…and was honestly rather disappointed to see Hickman’s credit on the cover and be consciously reminded that this IS actually his story. This issue didn’t really give me context for stuff, and I had no idea if it’s a "catch readers up to prepare them for the rest of the series" #0 or a "This is where the story truly begins" #0. The story seemed to actually try to be both, but felt choppy and lacked any kind of "editor’s notes" to refer me to any specific stories or to even place this against whatever issues are already out for various titles. Given I’ve hardly touched Marvel in a couple years, I’m lost. So while my frustration with DC and Convergence might give way to trying Secret Wars #1, I’m more curious about several of the tie-in minis and may well skip the core Secret Wars book…especially for the price point and knowledge that there’s virtually no way this does NOT get a collected volume whether I "support the single issues" or not.

Valiant 25th Anniversary Special

fcbd2015_valiantI already bought and read Bloodshot Reborn #1 weeks ago, so while I could buy into a story set some time after the last I’d seen the character within The Valiant, now suddenly finding this "untold" story segment kinda bugs me. This could’ve been included somehow in Bloodshot Reborn #1 or done as some other sort of giveaway or such. Or perhaps hold off a few weeks and kick off May with Bloodshot Reborn #1 next week, so this would have fallen where it should have. The lists of first appearances, greatest team-ups, greatest battles, etc. included both classic and contemporary Valiant so didn’t really interest me as presented. There are a couple teaser images for Eternal Warrior and Archer & Armstrong that are interesting enough. I honestly did NOT appreciate the inclusion of a chunk of Ninjak #1, given that came out awhile ago and #2 just came out last week…again, better to have held the release of #1 til after this, or "preview" something else. Give us a nice image for each title and a page apiece listing all the contemporary Valiant’s titles with their collected volumes available, perhaps. Give us some sort of timeline of where the various volumes fall in relation to each other. SOMEthing. Aside from the opening page TELLING me it’s been 25 years of Valiant, this did not feel at ALL like anything "special" for it…for that, give us the new stories from the hardbacks that kicked off the new Valiant close to a decade ago. Give us some new art from classic AND contemporary creators. I don’t know. This just felt like a big preview book and ad…but hey, it’s "free," it’s "just" a Free Comic Book Day issue to try to "sell" people on the stuff, so not like i"m even the target audience. C’est la vie.

Divergence #1

fcbd2015_dcdivergenceI don’t actually know what I expected of this issue, but whatever it was, this wasn’t it. I suppose I’m glad this is "original" material…I’m certainly quite tired of "just" reprint or "preview" material trying to sell me on stuff. Given the text intro addressing what this issue IS, I gather I’m not alone in that regard. We get the identity of who it is in the Batsuit taking focus in Batman come June, as well as a new status quo for SUperman (did Lois do her thing in a recent issue, or is this the first we’ve gotten of it?). And I had a hard time with the Justice League short, even though Johns wrote it. I found myself skimming it and I’m honestly just not any more interested in Darkseid now than I was nearly four years ago nor any previous time: I just don’t care about the character at any real length, especially as portrayed in the last 15-20 years. I also get tired of the constant messing about with characters for the sake of trying to appear new and hip and cool and relevant. Just goes to show how much I am NOT the target audience and have no particular problem continuing to primarily ignore DC stuff. Plus I have half a year’s worth of Batman Eternal to "catch up" on and I am burned out on weekly stuff.

All-New, All-Different Avengers

fcbd2015_allnewalldifferentavengersSomething to the cover of this issue just looks like some sort of "all-ages" comic rather than an actual in-continuity Marvel main universe continuity comic. And it certainly highlights just how out of touch I am with contemporary Marvel…I see the female Thor, a new Vision, the Nova I don’t care for, the Spidey I’m not interested in, some weird anatomy for the kid Marvel I know nothing about, Captain Falconamerica, and "Iron Man" (Stark, Pepper, who-knows-who). I have no real context for their story on the interior except it’s "the future," which could mean simply we’re getting an advance look at status quo, or this is a story set a few years down the road…I don’t really, honestly care enough to think too much. We also get a short story with a couple people turned into Inhumans and meeting a core group of experienced Inhuman characters…and maybe it’s just me, but it comes off very much of the Inhumans somewhat replacing mutants, which just does not sit well with me. This isn’t a horrible issue if you’re into the current Marvel stuff, but it does nothing positive toward "selling" ME on the Marvel Universe moving forward, and is truly something that I would not BUY and only have/read because it was free.

 

Doctor Who

fcbd2015_doctorwhoI actually couldn’t even "get into" this. I muddled through the chapter with the Twelfth Doctor, but only slightly skimmed the Eleventh and Tenth. For having so thoroughly enjoyed the tv series I just don’t seem to be able to get into the comics. Perhaps because the tv show is tight enough and thorough enough that I find it hard to "get into" adventures set within existing continuity "between episodes" or such. I picked up several copies specifically to share…but I’m half wondering as of this typing if I want to do that to anyone. At least they might enjoy the single issue as a random piece or for the photoshopped cover, even if it does nothing toward getting anyone interested in the comics. There’s also the issue of pricing and format…namely having four ongoing Doctor titles plus a rotating series of mini-series for the other Doctors, and hardbacks instead of paperbacks. At least when IDW had the license there were larger collected volumes than what Titan has done thus far (granted, they’ve only been publishing Doctor Who for about 10-11 months now).

TMNT: Mutanimals #2 [Review]

mutanimals002Story: Paul Allor
Art: Andy Kuhn
Colors: Nick Filardi
Letters: Shawn Lee and Tom Long
Cover: Andy Kuhn, Nick Filardi
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

While Slash and Hob scope out the Null corporation and find heightened security, Mondo and Herman have some downtime. Eventually their new friend–Mutagen Man–joins them, and as the group bonds, Mondo dubs Mutagen Man “Seymour Guts” since he doesn’t have a real name. Hob learns the location of the other mutants–he and Slash return for the rest of the group and launch an assault to save them. Unfortunately, this doesn’t go as well as hoped, which reverses the equation–instead of a group going in to save two, we’re left with two to save a group.

An earlier reference in the main TMNT book to “mutant animals” seemed a nice little reference to the classic Archie-published continuity, expanded and heightened by the use of the actual term “mutanimals.” Getting a mini-series for this “new” version of the characters has been a huge treat (at least conceptually). This issue, though–like the “mutant animals” reference–gives us a familiar adjective that for me totally made the whole issue worthwhile.

In the story, though we see the two mutants Hob set out to rescue, we’re not given the names. One looks like it COULD be a character I’m hoping for, but with other alterations for the current continuity as well as possible ownership things, I’m honestly not sure if we COULD see Man Ray or Ray Fillet in this series…same for Jagwar and Dreadmon or Wingnut and Screwloose.

So Mondo (Gecko) is the sole representative of that group of characters for me, and this “contemporary version” of the Mutanimals is a far cry from what I’d prefer–though the story itself is interesting and I definitely welcome continuation and expansion of the IDW TMNT-verse beyond just a single issue of the main title each month.

I don’t like that this is only a 4-issue arc…but then, that’s the “standard” and somewhat pigeon-holes stuff, making for shorter stories that maybe COULD be longer or have more ongoing plot threads/subplots. That said, this puts us to the halfway point, and we do meet the head of the Null corporation…something I’d feared would not happen at all or at least not within this series (or not til some epilogue or final-issue reveal).

While I definitely appreciate the notion of adding female characters to the TMNT-verse and recognize that named major female characters are quite rare historically in the property…I’m not a fan of this sort of changeup. Still, that’s a gut reaction and other than basically meeting the character and seeing what she does in this issue, we have no idea the actual origin and backstory and all that…and with two issues to go there’s still plenty of room for things to be developed and change my mind or clarify what I might be mis-assuming.

Visually I’m not terribly impressed with the issue…but as with the turtles themselves, it seems that one constant is the abundance of different visual depictions of the characters, and not all are necessarily going to be fully to my personal preferences. The art certainly gets across everything going on and I’m not left wondering at the action or any wonky anatomy or weird stuff like that.

I definitely enjoy seeing more of Hob and that while the character may be an antagonist to the turtles, he’s not some out and out villain…he’s like a Magneto of sorts, and that works well for me. I’m not used to a “smart” Slash nor a lack of the character seeking his palm tree…but I’m liking this take on the character.

I’m particularly eager to get the next issue to find out more about the two new mutants…and I’m quite curious at the future of this version of the Mutagen Man. I’d prefer the classics–Man Ray, Mondo, Wingnut and Screwloose, Jagwar, and Dreadmon–but given sufficent story space and development I could definitely see enjoying this new group and their dynamics quite well.

While one may not really have a lot of context for these non-TMNT mutant characters IN the TMNT universe without having read the main TMNT book, this does seem like it works well enough as its own thing as much as any “spin-off” or “tie-in” might. As a second issue, I’d certainly counsel grabbing the first…but unless you’re specifically seeking out the single issues and keeping up on a month-to-month basis that way, you’re just as well off waiting for the inevitable collected volume and get the whole story in one go. If you’re a fan of IDW‘s TMNT continuity, this is certainly a well worthwhile read.

_____________

The Adjective comes into play, behind the cut:

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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #44 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw044Attack on Technodrome (part four)

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Cover: Cory Smith, Ronda Pattison
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Date: March 2015
Cover Price: $3.99

It’s been a few months since I’ve covered an issue of this title–I think it was the end of the previous arc. Here we are at the end of the next arc–already! Though we’ve had Krang since the earliest issues, this arc and issue is where the “long arc” of stuff pays off.

The Leo, Raph, and Mikey tangle with some of Baxter’s flyborgs, before the scientist recalls them to make his escape…which leaves them free to get the mousers away from the Fugitoid…though this does not go over well with Krang. Meanwhile, Bebop and Rocksteady have been ordered to kill Donatello, and take great pleasure taking on the turtle and Metalhead. While the other turtles face Krang directly, Splinter is aided against Karai by Alopex and Nobody. Back on Burnow Island, Shredder’s mutants fail to help him, and escape…not realizing Baxter has designs on an alliance with their (probably now former) master. The turtles and Fugitoid end Krang’s plans for the Earth though they’re unable to prevent the island from being terraformed. The legacy of their battle is a space on Earth that can be a haven to surviving Utroms. While Honeycutt returns to Dimension X to see Krang answers for his crimes…the turtles return home to find that everyone was too late to save their brother.

Even long as the above summary is…it hardly does justice to the feeling I had reading this issue. I was expecting something big–I may have seen something hinting at a major event, or might’ve just felt like there’d “have to” be something big given all the “buildup” to the Technodrome activating and that it’d be a letdown if “all” that happened was that the turtles defeated Krang with no other lasting repercussions.

The art and writing together made for quite a scene between Bebop and Rocksteady vs. Donatello…and I honestly felt a bit sick reading it, at seeing Donnie take such an outright beating from the two. Gone are the overblown words and threats and no-one-actually-gets-hurt notion of the turtles facing the supposedly-dangerous lunkheads as we got throughout the ’80s/’90s animated series. Here, as I turned the pages I had a mental flash to Batman: A Death in the Family…exacerbated by the panel of Rocksteady’s hammer-swing quite looking like a crowbar. And though we don’t get detail, we get enough–the crack and crunch on the shell, and my realizion that I’d just been contemplating before that I’d never really read any TMNT story with any of the turtles truly having their shell damaged. They’ll be shown with scratches or cuts and such but the shell is generally shown deflecting a sword blade or some other object…but they’re not superhuman or invulnerable.

And we’re shown just enough to SEE that yeah…this is bad. VERY bad. Of course, that itself is made worse by the two talking over what they’d just done, remarking on the damage and what it looks like…definitely solidifying that it wasn’t just some “visual sound effect” and not just some visual angle.

And the end of the issue certainly suggests that the turtle family has been truly reduced by one…and yet no one comes out and says the “d-word” here, and I’m reminded of a key scene in the original Eastman/Laird series when Leo’d been horribly beaten by the foot and his near-lifeless body thrown through a window to the floor amidst the rest of the turtles. While mentally processing as I read the rest of the issue, I’d also thought immediately of the Image TMNT series, in which Donatello wound up a cyborg after a horrific accident all but killed him…the specifics remain a blind spot in my TMNT knowledge but given how much this series has drawn from prior incarnations of the property, I certainly have some expectation of where things can go from here…it’ll be the details and pace that are gonna hold my attention in a big way.

The immediacy of the issue–it’s the current issue as of this writing; it just came out this week; there’ve been no other new TMNT issues SINCE–certainly lends to a sense of importance by itself. Yet, I do truly think that in the long run, this may well be a key, defining issue in the series as well as moment for all the characters…something that’ll be referenced and relevant and to some degree inform the heart of the characters and the series for a good long time.

There’s not much “context” given, this is the fourth chapter of a four-part story, so it’s not particularly a jumping-on point. I certainly recommend the series, whether you backtrack to #41 and the start of this arc or pick up the entire series in collected format. Though I hurt for the characters, look forward to seeing how they get through, this remains one of my favorite comics being published currently by any company, and just about the longest I’ve kept up with any single series consistently on a monthly basis for such an extended time since the late-1990s.

While not the foundation/building blocks of the property, in terms of story quality, development, longevity, consistency, and quality…this is probably my favorite TMNT series, period…and after this issue I am all the more eager to see what comes, and even at the $3.99 price point, would likely enjoy weekly issues as long as the quality was maintained.

[ “The Scene” behind the cut. ]


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