Tag Archives: Cory Smith

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations Review – A Darker Shade of Green

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations, 2016TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations
AUTHOR: Tom Waltz
PENCILLER: Zach Howard, Cory Smith
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: March 30, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

In an era where everybody wants to read a “dark” story with a dark tone, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations is truly dark in terms of both story and art. That comes with its share of pros and cons. I’d think twice before showing it to a kid who likes the Nickelodeon cartoon. But for adults following this series, this issue is pretty cool.

These Deviations one-shots are the IDW equivalent of an Elseworlds or “What if?” story from DC or Marvel. They change a few things within the timeline of a series, and show us how the story unfolds afterward. In the case of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations, we go back to City Fall. Early in the story, Casey Jones is stabbed in the gut by The Shredder, but survives. This time, he doesn’t. Subsequently, instead of Leo being brainwashed and brought into the Foot, it’s all the Turtles. When we open the story, they’re chasing a desperate Splinter, determined to capture him. But while his family may have abandoned him, Splinter will find allies in unlikely places.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations, image 2I’ve been a Ninja Turtles fan most of my life. As such, the opening sequence in this issue is absolutely heartbreaking. It’s actually half the reason I wouldn’t put this issue in a young child’s hands, because it’s so emotionally brutal. The Turtles are mean, nasty, and blood thirsty toward their father. But he absolutely refuses to fight them. At one point Michelangelo, probably the most heart-on-his-sleeve of the boys, tells Splinter: “We’re not your sons.” In the next panel, we see a tear fall from Splinter’s eye. That’s an amazing character moment for him, amplified immensely by Zach Howard’s art. His eyes are very wide and expressive, almost dog-like. This entire sequence is the creative highlight of the book.

The Turtles and Splinter are hardly the only stars here. In this one issue, we also get appearances from Shredder, Karai, Kitsune, Alopex, Casey’s father Arnie Jones, Old Hob, and Slash. They’re not in minor roles, either. They all do their part in adding weight and emotion to the story. They also play a part in adding a significant amount of bloodshed to the proceedings. I won’t spoil things, but a lot of characters die in this issue. So much so that the last page contains a shot of the Turtles standing amongst all the bodies. From a logic standpoint, it’s almost too much. You’re literally left thinking: “Wait, they all died?” It’s a shame. I’d enjoy seeing this timeline revisited at some point, and now they’ve left themselves without a lot of supporting characters. Not all of them get the impactful deaths they deserve, either.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations, image 1Conspicuous by her absence is April O’Neil. Waltz, Howard, and the creative team are somewhat hindered by the page count here. So I imagine it was just a matter of not being able to fit her in anywhere. But being such a close confidant, you’d think she’d have found a way to interject.

One character’s death is delivered by Arnie Jones. Again, no spoilers. But I will say it’s both very unexpected and very cool. It’s the kind of moment that reminds you that when you get right down to it, anything can happen in these stories.

Deviations, to it’s credit, doesn’t look like an average TMNT issue from IDW. Again, it’s dark. It’s much sketchier and more shadowy, especially in that opening sequence. Then at the very end, something happens and the brightness suddenly adjusts. It’s as if a light has suddenly turned on, and it’s very fitting given the events that unfold. It’s a great example of different art styles conveying different tones.

Chronologically, the first thing that changes in this timeline is the death of Casey Jones. This issue is hurt by the fact that we don’t actually see Casey die, or the Turtles’ reaction to his death. We also don’t see how the boys are captured, or how they’re brainwashed. This story is essentially missing its first act. Again, the scope of this story is much bigger than the page count allows. I imagine that’s why it seems like so many characters die so quickly. They had to hurry and wrap things up before they ran out of space.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations, image 3Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Deviations accomplishes its goal. It shows us a different take on the Turtles and their world. It’s not beautiful from a pacing standpoint, but it’s strengths in art and sheer emotional impact outweigh its flaws. They can, and should, come back to this if they can add something meaningful to it.

Consider this: How would the Turtles move forward without Splinter? Do they split up? Do they become more aggressive without their father’s guiding hand? Food for thought…

Images courtesy of comicbookresources.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/

Advertisements

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters Review – 30 Years in the Making

Teenage+and+BustersTITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters
AUTHORS: Tom Waltz, Erik Burnham
PENCILLERS: Dan Schoening, Cory Smith, Charles Paul Wilson III
COLLECTS: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters #1-4
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
GRAPHIC NOVEL PRICE: $17.99
GRAPHIC NOVEL RELEASE DATE:
April 2015

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

By God…dreams do come true.

If you’re a child of the ‘80s, this story is instantly epic simply because it exists. The Ghostbusters and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, two staples of ‘80s pop culture (pop culture in general, I suppose), are together at last. What’s more, they’re in the hands of creators who actually know what they’re doing! The premise alone is enough to prompt a geek out. Hell, they didn’t even need to give this story a title. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters was enough.

Indeed, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of both franchises, IDW has brought them together in this four-issue miniseries. After an accident with Donatello’s transdimensional portal, the Turtles, April O’Neil, and Casey Jones find themselves in an alternate version of New York City where ghosts run amok…until the boys in gray show up to quell the chaos. But oddly enough, a new piece of that spectral chaos emerges that is connected to the Turtles and their universe. And matters grow worse when Casey finds himself caught in the crossfire.

TMNT/Ghostbusters, DonatelloYes, they took the multiverse route with this one. It was their only option, really. The notion that the Turtles and the Ghostbusters inhabit the same universe, much less the same city, raises too many questions. Most of the story takes place in the Ghostbusters’ world, which again, raises less questions. Could Peter, Ray, and the guys be of use against the Foot Clan, Krang, or some kind of ghostly mutant? Probably. But keeping them in their element is a good way to protect them, and make sure they’re able to stand on equal footing as the Turtles.

In truth, this story doesn’t need a lot of complex storytelling elements to be good. All you really need to do is give them a common enemy to fight, then put the characters next to each other, and let them write themselves. It’s a lot of comparing and contrasting, and playing with the different imagery associated with both worlds. Heck, it’s almost a science (*rim shot*) in and of itself. For instance…

– In the second issue Ray and Donatello are comparing notes about how the Turtles switched dimensions, and generally talking science stuff. Venkman then leans over to Raph and says: “So you have one like that, too, huh?” Raph replies: “At least it’s just one.”

– In the same issue, Leo and Winston have a bonding moment over being the more level-headed ones in their respective groups. They fist-bump.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters, April, Venkman– The second issue closes with Donatello wearing a proton pack. A goddamn Ninja Turtle, wearing a goddamn proton pack. No lie.

Given the story takes place in the Ghostbusters’ world, Dan Schoening was the logical choice to take the reigns for most of the art, along with colorist Luis Delgado. As fans, we can all be thankful for that. Schoening’s more animated style is a perfect fit for both the Turtles and the Ghostbusters. And he’s just got a great flare for ‘80s and ‘90s nostalgia. Look at his DeviantArt page and you’ll see not only the Ghostbusters, but Back to the Future, vintage Nintendo, A Christmas Story, and a plethora of other throwback material, in addition to your standard comic book superhero stuff. Make no mistake about it, this is his arena.

A lot of the variant covers done for this story are really cool too. Kevin Eastman did the retail incentive cover for issue #1, which is another big thrill for ‘80s comic geeks. Brent Peeples put together a pretty awesome cover to issue #2 with Raph throwing a ghost trap. But my favorite by far has to be Cory Smith’s cover for issue #3, with Mikey wearing a proton pack. The look on his face makes the cover.

My only major complaint about this book is its villain. Chi-You, an actual Chinese war deity, and in the IDW universe the brother of Kitsune from TMNT, is essentially a mildly spooky looking soundboard for clichéd villain dialogue. He spouts clunkers like…

– “When you next see me, you will regret it!”
– “I will peel the flesh from your bones!”
– “Fool. Your skills are nothing compared to mine!”

chi-you-is-a-ghostI’m a big fan of both Waltz and Burnham, and I’ll reiterate that this story is more about the thrill of seeing these two teams next to each other than anything else. Hell, I even like the choice of the Chinese war god. But Chi-You actually threatens to take you out of the story at times because you’re rolling your eyes so hard.

Still, as a lifelong die-hard fan of both the TMNT and the GBs, I was happy with what we got here. It’s not a masterpiece by any means. But it was, give or take, exactly what you wanted to see from a Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters team up. The characters got to play in each other’s sandboxes, and we all got to watch the fun ensue. I’m sure IDW could easily go back to the well with these two franchises if they wanted to. But frankly, I’m more concerned with Burnham and Schoening getting a monthly Ghostbusters series again. C’mon guys, let’s make that happen!

RATING: 7/10

Image 1 from tmntentity.blogspot.com. Image 2 from adventuresinpoortaste.com. Image 3 from retcon-punch.com.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter @PrimaryIgnition, or at Facebook.com/PrimaryIgnition/