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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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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #30 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw030Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Ross Campbell
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Ross Campbell
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

This issue turned out to be somewhat like I expected based on the cover image, even though I hadn’t really thought too much about what its content would actually be. Recovering from their encounter with Shredder in Cityfall, our heroes are hanging out in Northampton, having (for now) left New York behind. Here, we find Mikey writing a letter to his friend back in the city, talking about the experience and how things are going. While Mikey’s writing is in broad strokes, the situation is fleshed out as we see the specifics of the characters’ interactions.

Visually, something seemed a bit “off” this issue that I wasn’t expecting. Yet, as I’ve said plenty of times previously, I’m quite used to and almost “expect” a number of different visual interpretations of the Turtles and cast. So despite the “off-ness” I really didn’t have any actual “problem” with the art. Despite that “off-ness,” Campbell‘s style here is similar enough to Santolouco‘s that if I wasn’t reviewing this I probably wouldn’t have paid attention to the credits to realize it WAS a different artist.

The story in this issue is a bit of a lull in the action, things are relatively low-key. And I very much enjoyed that! It also reminds me of one of my favorite issues of the original TMNT series by Eastman and Laird (for that matter, one of my all-time favorite issues of TMNT, or anything, period). I feel like I always enjoy this type of issue–just getting to see the characters interact, without there having to be some grand amount of action.

As usual, I enjoyed the “latest issue” of this series, and am definitely looking forward to the next. While I loathe the $3.99 pricing, this also continues to be a series I’d grudgingly pay that weekly for, provided it maintained its quality.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series: Leonardo [Review]

Script by: Brian Lynch
Art by: Ross Campbell
Colors by: Jay Fotos
Letters by: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover by: David Petersen
Published by: IDW

The turtles’ father, Splinter, has just been kidnapped by Hob. As the turtles spread out to cover more ground, Leo heads back to Stockman’s place, determined to rescue his father. As he proceeds, he finds himself thinking back to his past life as revealed recently by Splinter, and we as readers see how that’s a driving force for the character. Before long, Leo finds himself fighting some Foot ninjas…and then some more, and even more, and before long he’s got no clue how many there are, but they’re more than he seems able to handle. Eventually, most leave, and Leo is treated to one on one combat with an elite ninja, and the battle severely wounds his pride, to say the least, leaving him to limp home to his brothers with no new word on Splinter.

The art works pretty well overall here. The only sort of oddity to me is that the visual style makes Leo in particular look too young, almost. But on the whole, good art, and the story’s easy to follow without feeling lost or having any major gripes with the art.

Story-wise, this isn’t the greatest, but it’s still good. While we get some addition to the overall TMNT continuity in general and see the Foot are quite numerous (and I have my suspicion about the identity of the elite one-on-one combatant being far more important than is let on here), a certain element of the story feels rather cliche and thus a bit “forced.” The ORIGINAL Leonardo one-shot saw him out in the city and suddenly in conflict with a great many Foot ninjas, ultimately being bested by the Shredder. So having this put Leo in position of being out in the city, in conflict with a great many Foot ninjas, and facing a superior combatant while not being a re-telling of that original story just doesn’t sit quite right with me.

That said…when I get past the critical/analytical part of my mind…it’s Leonardo. Fighting the Foot, cutting loose with his swords (even though there’s no gore to be found visually). So frankly…I enjoyed the issue. I really did. Just not quite as much as I might have had I not been so looking forward to it…the thing couldn’t live up to my perconcieved expectations.

As with the first 3 of these issues…this tells a nice side-story focusing on a solo turtle, while pushing the overall story forward a bit, introducing elements that are going to surely be quite important to the main series before too much longer.

That this issue is primarily fighting makes it less than ideal as a single jump-on point, though fans specifically of Leo will probably enjoy this well enough. Though this is technically a separate thing from the ongoing series and is not essential, it feels pretty important, and so long as you’re enjoying the entire rebirth of the TMNT-verse, treating this as a continuation of the main series is probably the most enjoyable way to take the issue in.

Story: 7.5/10
Art: 7.5/10
Whole: 8/10

House of Mystery #1 [Review]

Quick Rating: Good
Story Title: The First Drink is on the House, The Hollows

A new story is set up as we’re introduced to the present status quo of the House of Mystery…

houseofmystery001Writers: Matthew Sturges, Bill Willingham
Artists: Luca Rossi, Ross Campbell
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover: Sam Weber
Variant Cover: Bernie Wrightson
Co-Editors: Shelly Bond & Angela Rufino
Publisher: DC Comics

I don’t normally read Vertigo books as single issues, especially for their first arcs, knowing I’ll be able to check them out in a bargain-priced TPB for the first arc, and tend to find the stories much more engaging read as full arcs rather than singles.

What intrigued me with this series was the premise that there would be stories within the story…as well as a vague recollection of the "House of Mystery" having a role in Gaiman‘s Sandman series, which I read a number of years ago.

The issue actually opens with Cain and Abel, in their familiar relationship I recalled from Sandman, which drew me right into the issue. While Cain finds himself in an interesting predicament, the story moves forward a few years, and we find ourselves in the midst of a farewell party for an individual preparing to leave, even as others remain stuck. We also get the beginnings of a look at someone on the run with only drawings of a mysterious house. We’re also treated to a story by one of the patrons of the kitchen–as stories are the only currency of any weight here. This story provides some context to who she is, leading into a rather disturbing revelation that she herself doesn’t even seem to realize…though it seems perfectly fitting for a mysterious house full of people who can’t seem to go anywhere.

The story reminds me of a story from the Sandman, at least as far as characters being brought together in one place and sharing stories of their pasts and where they come from and all that. At the same time, there seems to be a certain "framing" story overall that hints at a larger story at play, even while we meet the characters in this house and are treated to the stories they tell one another. That the art team varies for the stories being told is something I really like, more fully illustrating the difference between the main story we’re witnessing as readers, and the story we’re witnessing as fellow listeners while a story is told within the story.

Overall, the art all around works quite well to me, accentuating the story in a very believable way. In something of a rare moment, I feel like I got both a "full" story in this issue where I don’t feel I have to get the next issue…but there’s also enough of something else that I’m interested in seeing what else is to be found. The final page seems to work as well both as an ending and a beginning…a nice "hook" for the reader.

This is a very solid first issue, and if subsequent issues read much in the way this one did, I think it’ll be a nice treat, without even needing to read a bunch of issues in one sitting just to feel like I’m getting the fuller picture.

If only to try it out, I definitely recommend this issue.

Ratings:

Story: 4/5
Art: 3/5
Overall: 3.5/5

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