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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.

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