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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 Toys in the Wild – Newtralizer, Shredder (Variant), Cockroach Terminator, and Snakeweed

While I did finally “pull the trigger” on buying the Casey Jones figure, I’ve continued to come across a bunch of figures that I have either not been interested in actually purchasing, or haven’t justified (to myself) the purchase YET.

Here are some more photos of several other figures “in the wild”…

NEWTRALIZER

newtralizer_front

newtralizer_profile

SHREDDER (VARIANT)

shredder2_front

shredder2_profile

COCKROACH TERMINATOR

cockroach_terminator_front

cockroach_terminator_profile

SNAKEWEED

snakeweed_front

snakeweed_profile

 

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #37 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw037Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Cory Smith
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

This is easily one of my favorite issues of the series so far…yet it’s not exactly one that would stand alone entirely as an introduction to the book. The fact that it deals deeply in established continuity, bridging the previous arc(s) and leading into the next is a huge strength for the issue.

When I first saw this cover (I get the “A” covers as a matter of principle) I almost grinned. Shredder and Krang facing each other as if an uneasy alliance or entering an alliance, with the under-construction Deathsta…er…Technodrome in the background? This could easily be a poster, and one I would frame and hang if I had it. So to say that the cover caught my attention in and of itself is an apt bit to note in an age of generic interchangeable covers and variants.

The interior art is similarly eye-catching, which makes sense–Cory Smith provides the interiors as well as the “A” cover. The characters’ appearances all look very good, fit established appearances from other artists, and on the whole I just can’t find anything disconcerting or off-putting that drew me out of the story or any negative reaction. I’m not typically an art-focused reader, but to put it simply: I really enjoyed the visuals to this issue.

The story opens on Shredder and Krang and immediately had me curious what they’d be up to in this issue, and half-wondering if it’d be a “talky” issue. We then shift to see what Alopex is up to, with Kitsune, and see that there’s definitely something building there. The story returns to Shredder and Krang’s conference, which doesn’t get either very far before violence breaks out and it becomes quickly apparent that the two will be at odds with each other even while having a common foe in the turtles.

This was indeed a bit of a “talky” issue…though moreso, it was Shredder vs. Krang (with a bit of Shredder’s goons vs. Krang’s goons thrown in for good measure). From the characters’ exchange I’ve realized I definitely–as I’ve somewhat suspected for awhile–missed an issue of the Utrom Empire series somehow. I found myself rather engaged throughout the issue, enjoying it immensely and wishing it wasn’t quickly drawing to a conclusion.

That the story credits three creators is something that I think has made this series extremely enjoyable for me: Eastman as original co-creator of the property, and three years in Curnow and Waltz have certainly established themselves. As a team they’re providing stories and character moments and concepts that have made IDW‘s TMNT continuity possibly the most well-rounded and pretty much my favorite of the myriad TMNT continuities out there.

There’s a definite nostalgia factor for me with Alopex–I’d initially thought she’d be a stand-in for the Ninjara character that appeared in the ’90s TMNT Adventures series…though that could yet be, just (like everything else with IDW‘s continuity) developing a bit slower and with more detail as we go along. I also far prefer this version of Krang to any other version, much as I prefer the comics Cobra Commander to the GI Joe cartoons’ version(s) of the character.

Koya and Bludgeon also remind me of TMNT Adventures characters–Koya of a character whose name I don’t recall offhand, and Bludgeon of the time-travelling shark Armaggon…whether or not these current characters have any bases visually or otherwise on the classic characters doesn’t much matter as I simply enjoyed seeing these, and have the freedom to “hope” there’s some sort of tie.

While I wouldn’t really recommend using this issue as a cold jumping-on point, it’s a strong done-in-one “interlude” that carries itself while bridging arcs and reminding readers of what’s come before that presumably will come into play in the next arc. If you’re a fan of Shredder and/or Krang this isn’t a bad issue, either, even if you’ve been away for an arc or few. 

(However, if you’re looking for the turtles themselves? They don’t appear in this issue’s story. And I’m more than fine with that–the conflict with Shredder and Krang was so engaging that as I read, I was hoping this’d be the case so as to not steal page-time away from the villains.)

As much as ANY comic is these days, this is definitely worth its cover price for the read, particularly as an ongoing reader of the series/continuity. Highly recommended.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #25 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw025City Fall, part four

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow & Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Layouts: Kevin Eastman
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee & Tom Long
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Cover: Mateus Santolouco
Published by: IDW
Cover Price: $3.99

City Fall is shaping up to be one of THE epic TMNT stories, certainly a worthy rival to the classic City at War story that ran in the original TMNT series back in 1992/1993. This issue marks the halfway point of the story, and I’m extremely interested in what comes next!

Raphael–distraught over his role in Casey getting hurt and Leonardo’s being taken by the Foot–is out busting heads, hoping to find the Foot so he can atone for his mistake by rescuing Leo himself. Donatello talks to Casey on the phone, updating him on what’s going on…Raph’s out, and Splinter’s disappeared with Slash on some personal mission. Don and Mikey are heading out to search for Raph. April and Casey have a moment as we see their relationship continuing to bloom. Splinter meets with Old Hob to enlist aid in rescuing his son. Meanwhile, we see Leo as Shredder’s #2, his “Chunin,” and Karai isn’t impressed.

I recall several panels jumping out at me as the turtles looking kinda strange, which momentarily took me out of the story. However, on giving myself an extra moment to take stuff in, they actually fit with the rest…there were just details I’d not really noticed that I suddenly did (particularly the raggedness of the turtles’ masks, which makes sense and I like…it’s not like they’re going to some shop and buying perfectly manufactured masks or anything!). Overall I’m continuing to really enjoy Santolouco’s art, and very much appreciating the general consistency to the look of this title for this arc at least.

Story-wise, I continue to be fascinated by the possibilities of character growth, development, and change. As this is a relatively new continuity unbeholden to older material (but drawing organically from everything that’s come before and reworking it to fit together), I can see so much potential to things, which pleasantly derails any concrete expectations I might have. At the very least I anticipate this arc having drastic long-reaching impact on Leonardo moving forward as well as tricky consequences for Splinter, and likely long-term stuff for Casey.

It also appears that we’re about to have the introduction of a couple ‘classic’ very popular characters from the original TMNT cartoon brought fully into this continuity, and while I can mostly do without the idea of them, I have faith that they’ll be worked into this continuity quite well and be as different as Cobra Commander in the GI Joe comics was to the cartoon counterpart of that series…or at least, I really hope that’s the case!.

If you’ve read through to the prior issue, I see nothing in particular to this issue to give reason not to pick it up. 

I believe I saw solicitation text somewhere showing that IDW is continuing to collect every 4 issues into new paperbacks, so a new volume with the interlude between the Krang War and City Fall, as well as the first 3 chapters of City Fall itself should be available soon…which would make this a decent jumping-on point if you’re following the series in trades and are looking for a point to jump into the single issues.

And while you’ll certainly benefit from a larger context having read much of the earlier material, if you’re just looking for a solid, major TMNT story…for being 4 chapters in of an expected 7, I highly recommend this!

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (IDW) #22 [Review]

teenagemutantninjaturtlesidw022City Fall, Part One
Story: 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

Once I originally discovered the original Mirage TMNT comics and could be officially considered “into” them, THE major TMNT story was City at War, beginning with the big #50 issue that saw the return of Eastman and Laird–the characters’ creators–simultaneously to the title. The arc continued for the next 12 issues; 13 chapters in all…easily the largest single arc in the characters’ history to that point.

Now, after five 4-issue arcs and several mini-series, we begin what’s being billed as the largest-yet arc for this current IDW run: City Fall. I’m almost certain the title is MEANT to recall City at War, just by its name…and reading this issue, I can see a sort of thematic connection already. I don’t recall–if I even ever “knew”–how long this arc’s intended to be, but for some reason I have “7” on the brain.

Raphael and Casey are out and about, checking on Casey’s dad…when they’re ambushed by the Foot. Raph escapes, but is unable to take Casey with him–he quickly returns to his brothers, anxious to get back out and rescue his friend. While a rescue mission is mounted, the turtles and Splinter are dismayed at the presence of Shredder himself…a situation that–coupled with Raph’s uncontrolled rage–leaves the entire turtle-family in a far less than ideal situation by issue’s end.

Visually, I enjoyed this issue more than I thought I would. I don’t recall having any real issue with Santolouco‘s art on the Secret History of the Foot Clan mini, and his style works well here. Coupled with the consistency of Pattison‘s colors, this fits in very well with established IDW TMNT visuals; and aside from one panel toward the end of the issue, I have no trouble following the story visually.

The story itself seems to be–based on the credits–a sort of “story by committee,” and if this were DC or Marvel I might be quite concerned to see the book’s editor in the story credits. But I’m already used to seeing both Eastman (co-creator of the characters!) and Waltz credited together…and with Curnow’s history with this property, it makes sense for involvement there as well.

I definitely find myself enjoying the use of continuity…it’s been frustrating in its own way having such short, clipped arcs of “only” 4 issues apiece (notable by the collected volumes popping out every few months). But we’re treated to stuff coming out of the various arcs, as opposed to some floating, “timeless” standalone arc that could happen at “any time.” Recurring characters and events/references come from the various Micro-Series issues and even last year’s phenomenal Annual.

From this issue alone, the story actually feels bigger…and we get a potentially major event in this issue to kick things off with pretty high stakes–I don’t know exactly what to expect going forward…but whatever happens, this issue will certainly be one ripe for lots of further reference as we continue on with this continuity.

The issue’s certainly a treat to me, having been following the entirety of the IDW TMNT continuity since it began a couple years ago…I could say this is my favorite issue of the week, but that’d be a bit misleading, as this is the ONLY new comic I bought this week: the TMNT are a core part of my comics buying, and visiting the comic shop for this single issue–where in the past I’ve skipped a week due to there only being 2 issues of anything out–was totally worthwhile. I’m definitely looking forward to the next issue!

TMNT Action Figures 2012: Out of Their Shells

…and here are the TMNT 2012 figures, out of their packaging!

Raphael, April O’Neil, Donatello, Michelangelo, Splinter, and Leonardo:

photo(TMNTAprilSplinter)

Shredder with Foot Soldiers:

photo(ShredderAndFootNinjas)

TMNT vs. Shredder and the Foot:

photo(TMNTvsFoot)

The Kraang:

photo(Kraang)

And just cuz I could, 2003 TMNT side-by-side with 2012 TMNT:

2003and2012TMNT

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