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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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TMNT Revisited: TMNT Adventures #5

tmntadventures005

Full Post at TMNT Revisited

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #5

TMNT (2012) Toys: Bebop and Rocksteady

I was rather surprised several weeks ago to learn of these figures’ pending presence in Walmarts (something about being “exclusive” to Walmart and available “everywhere” in January or some such). Surprised for that exclusivity (ugh) and their very existence.

I have mixed feelings on ’em; I’ve been more than fine with a number of other characters having multiple iterations, but to me, These two don’t really have much need to exist. And yet though I say that…I bought ’em both first chance I could, and I’ll be interested in seeing them on the show whenever I (eventually) catch up.

Though the profiles suggest their being far different than the originals, and even the contemporary comics versions (which are probably my favorite iteration).

rocksteady_front

rockstead_profile

Rocksteady lacks much visually of what I’d expect of the character, given the popularity seems (to me, in my mind) to be based specifically on the character in the classic ’80s/’90s cartoon. Here he’s basically “just” a mutant rhino who happens to share the name with the original.

bebop_front

bebop_profile

Same with Bebop as said about Rocksteady above…though I do “see” a bit more of the classic Bebop in this version than I see of the similarities in versions of Rocksteady.

Those pencil-thin legs look really awkward to me, and I can’t say I’m particularly thrilled with the design.

The back of the card shows some new mutated version of Michelangelo, and a “serpent” version of Karai…two figures I have zero interest in. Having picked up Tiger Claw, Slash, the “original comics” turtles and whatnot, at the moment I think I’m pretty content on the TMNT toys.

Though one of these days I’m gonna (finally) bite the bullet and buy that darned van…

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.

Some thoughts on comics from the week of 10/30/2013

Damian, Son of Batman #1

damiansonofbatman001I’ve said in the past that those 5-page “previews” or really ANY “preview” repeated over and over and over throughout comics I *am* reading will typically NOT get me any closer to buying the comic they’re “advertising.” What I’m noticing that WILL get me, though, is a cover. See the cover to the Shazam vol. 1 enough times, I decided I was interested enough to buy it. Ditto the “main” image for this issue. Now, the issue itself…I wasn’t impressed. The art’s good, I like Damian’s costume in particular. But the story just isn’t doing it for me, at least not as a single chapter of four. And it’s been so long since I even read Batman #666 (which itself is about 76 issues old as of this typing) that there’s no real significance to me other than “hey, here’s a Damian who didn’t die.” Given all that, I don’t think I’m gonna spend $4/issue on the remaining 3 in this series…but I’ll likely keep an ear to the ground and if I hear enough positive ‘buzz’ about it, perhaps pick up a paperback of the full story once that comes out, if reasonably priced.

The Sandman: Overture #1

sandmanoverture001I was really looking forward to this in the few days leading up to its release. Then I was immediately disappointed by the covers. I couldn’t figure out which cover was the “main” cover, and of the two that I saw, neither particularly rang any bells with the (limited) “marketing” I’d seen for the series; neither stood out as “the” “main” cover. While this oughtta be a relatively minor thing, it largely soured me on initial feelings, which is not a good thing…especially as I don’t recall other Sandman comics doing the “variant thing” and The Sandman really doesn’t strike me as something that oughtta have variants…so this suddenly fell out of fitting perfectly with the “classic” stuff and into “just another modern comic.” I typically have not been a fan of this artist, not caring for the layouts and looser style and all that. However…the style works extremely well for this issue, for The Sandman. Though I don’t recall this artist working on the original series, his work fits in quite well on the whole with my recollection of the original series. Story-wise, again, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve actually read anything Sandman…so taken solely as a stand-alone thing, this issue doesn’t really impress me on the whole. Still, I recognize something in it that (thankfully) rings “true” to memory, expectation, and all that. I have the feeling I’ll enjoy this much more taken as a whole someday, when this entire arc is collected into a single volume.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #27

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw027There’s a certain “meta” thing about this series for me, between the single issues and the collected volumes. Aside from wherever it was I got the impression of City Fall being a 7-parter (online article, perhaps…not sure if it was anything “official” in-print), I find I “see” story arcs by how they’re collected, which thus far has been some “strict” 4-issue cycle, each collected volume being exactly 4 issues without any variance…even for a specific EXTENDED SINGLE ARC like this being split up. This seems to be the penultimate chapter of City Fall, as things come to a head–and we’re set up for Big Stuff next issue. Story-wise, we get some forward momentum, though it does feel a bit like this issue’s kinda “treading water,” with some of the key stuff going on in the Villains Micro-Series rather than here. Often I’ve enjoyed the added stuff in the Micro-Series, “enhancing” the “main story,” but (for example) the introduction of Bebop and Rocksteady would have had more impact, I think, if they’d been mutated in this main book, or had they been introduced here and THEN we got filled in on the backend about their actual mutation and “trial run.) Visually I continue to enjoy Santolouco‘s work almost as much as I’m enjoying Brizuela‘s on the New Animated Adventures title. All in all, not a bad issue, but not particularly impressive in and of itself…though I’m quite looking forward to the final chapter of this arc.

TMNT Villains Micro-Series #7: Bebop & Rocksteady

tmntvillainsmicroseries007bebopandrocksteadyI’ve never been a particular fan of Bebop and Rocksteady. I see them as a key element of censorship in the 1980s, where heaven forbid the turtles should “win” “beating up” a human. The fact that they were never REALLY much threat to the turtles was also a drawback. But the cover to this issue–which I think I first saw in the “next issue” page of the previous Micro-Series issue–went a long way to change my mind on these guys…making them actually look big…and dangerous. We’ve seen the thugs that mutate, before–a couple cameos, and a cliffhanger of them being part of the group told to fight down to the last two for the chance to become “something more.” This issue gives us a bit of a “flashback” of Bebop and Rocksteady and their “gang history” before joining up with the Foot group, their actual mutation, and their “test run” in mutated form. While still the dimwitted, bumbling idiots they were in the classic cartoon, they’re treated much more seriously here, and come off as the dangerous, mutated brutes they should be…a genuine threat to the turtles despite not being the brightest. I liked the art here, and much as I like Santolouca‘s art on the main series, I far prefer Bebop and Rocksteady’s look here than their appearance in City Fall. An endearing touch in this issue is acknowledging the characters’ names/nicknames as musical styles: I still remember the sudden “click” in my mind early in college when I made that particular connection. Definitely a good issue if you want a Bebop & Rocksteady story, as well as a key issue in the overall TMNT continuity from IDW. As with other Micro-Series issues, you can ignore that number on the cover…treat this as a one-shot with timely, in-continuity elements.

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