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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.

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The Adjective comes into play, behind the cut:

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TMNT: Turtles in Time #4 [Review]

tmntturtlesintime004Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Dan Duncan
Colorist: Ronda Pattison
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: David Petersen
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

I didn’t pay attention to the issue’s credits when I started reading, but there was something familiar to the visuals. As it should be–with art by IDW‘s first regular TMNT artist, Dan Duncan. While Duncan‘s art grew on me after a bit, it did seem a bit clunky here, not being as used to it. Still, it worked quite well for the issue.

I feel like I hardly remember details from previous issues (just the general sense of the story, having read them in month-apart segments), but just knowing the turtles have been time-hopping was enough for me for this issue’s story. We find the turtles some years in the future, in what used to be Manhattan. The brothers are surprised at the lack of alarm to their appearance walking in open daylight…until they learn the entire island is hostile territory for mutant turtles of the ninja variety. Escaping to the sewers they find a potentially paradox-inducing ally, as well as a new fight in this time…but this one is of their choosing, rather than allowing Renet to simply send them home. And by the end of the story, one of the turtles is left wondering about the present in light of the future they’d just witnessed.

Even without the 2014 Annual or the previous 3 issues of this series, I quite enjoyed this issue. There’s a definite history not only of time travel in general with the turtles, but with future versions of the turtles themselves. Fondly recalling the various “future turtles” stories in the old TMNT Adventures series from Archie, I was drawn in all the more and looking at details here than I might have otherwise been. One panel alone suggests that the world’s been divided up between the Foot, Krang, and Baxter Stockman (apparently recognized as a Fly).

The only real drawback to this series–and this might just be the immediacy of this issue–is that off the top of my head, I can’t think of anything all that poignant from the previous issues to carry back into the main continuity, while this issue has some key stuff that would be great to see carried over. In a way, I’d even say this issue could (in tandem with the Annual) be read by itself, just knowing that the turtles had bounced around through several time periods before landing here.

As this is definitely a side story, I’m glad it didn’t interrupt the “flow” of the main series. But given this is the concluding issue of a 4-part mini series, unless you’re following this one specifically or single issues in general, I’d say you’re about as well off waiting for the collected volume as trying to track down the previous issues. At the same time, if you read the 2014 Annual, you should be able to dive into this issue without much problem, even without the first 3.

All told, I enjoyed the issue, and to me, that’s the main thing.

TMNT: Turtles in Time #1 [Review]

tmntturtlesintime001Turtles in Time (part 1)

Writer: Paul Allor
Artist: Ross Campbell
Colorist: Bill Crabtree
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

Two TMNT comics in one week? I’m not a fan of the $3.99 being doubled-up in the single week, but it IS TMNT, and this is a fun issue, so I’m not about to complain about “more TMNT” than less!

We pick up with the turtles randomly running from dinosaurs and utroms–either on prehistoric Earth or a planet much like it. The group is quickly split, with Raph captured by utroms, and the others chased off by the dinosaurs. As Raph recruits a baby Triceratops (he’s named her “Pepperoni”), the others mount a rescue operation that doesn’t go too badly…until the utrom military arrives. The turtles get some clue as to what’s going on when Renet shows up, but she’s not as helpful as she could be. Finally, the utroms’ military leader sees potential in what’s to be found on this world.

Visually, the Peterson cover is awesome…even if it is a bit misleading. It was rather jarring to go from that beautiful cover to the interior, which is a much different style. That gave me a bit of pause, and it took several pages to “adjust” but once I did, I quite liked the interior art as well. Though This is presumably set within current IDWTMNT-verse continuity, their was something to the look that struck me as being almost more like the current animated series than the ongoing IDW book.

There’s a blurb on the inside of the cover explaining that this series takes place after the 2014 Annual, but that Annual is not yet out. Perhaps that’d be a bigger deal to me on other stuff, but for the TMNT, it doesn’t bother me too much. The “spin” of it being a “time malfunction” is just cutesy enough to be amusing, and could loosely be seen as a bit of “augmented reality” or whatever buzzword folks want to use for trying to immerse a reader in stuff related to the issue.

Story-wise, this actually ALMOST functions as a sort of one-shot. We’re as readers already thrown off a bit by being tossed into the middle of a situation-in-progress, and we end on a similar note in such a way that it sort of brings things full circle, even though the story whole is continuing into the next issue.

I like the characterization, particularly Mikey and Raph in this issue. I “heard” the voice of the current animated series’ Mikey in this, and chuckled at an amusing bit where an utrom unknowingly repeats something Mikey did, allowing readers to make an assumption as to what happened off-panel.

I don’t recall seeing any solicitation info or any blurbs in the back of any TMNT issues I’ve read mentioning this series, so its appearance this week was a pleasant surprise and definite “treat.” While it seems this story will spin out of the upcoming TMNT 2014 Annual, there’s certainly enough in-story context to bring one up to speed on what matters to the current story. Really, other than involving utroms and a mention of Krang this seems to sit alone quite well, not contradicting anything in continuity but not drawing from any specific moment in the ongoing series…so it’s well worth jumping in on this mini-series at least, even if you’re not following the ongoing in particular. And if you do follow the ongoing, this is a fun side-adventure that’s an enjoyable read…whether or not it plays much into the ongoing book.

Highly recommended!

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