Tag Archives: Donatello (TMNT)

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.

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A Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 Review – City Boys

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1TITLE: Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
PENCILLER: Freddie E. Williams II
PUBLISHERS: DC Comics, IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: December 9, 2015

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

By God, it’s Batman and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! After all these years! It’s the team up we’ve always…kinda…sorta wanted…maybe?

Indeed, DC and IDW are in the crossover business again, this time with The Dark Knight and the Heroes in a Half-shell. The Turtles, Splinter, The Foot Clan, and possibly April and Casey (that’s not quite clear) have somehow found themselves transported to Gotham City. The Foot have gotten their hands on several pieces of experimental tech, which suggests they’re building something big and dangerous. Naturally, Batman and the Ninja Turtles have a common enemy. But what sort of team will Batman and the TMNT make?

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, title pageThis team up is different than, say, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Ghostbusters, in that it’s driven less by the characters and more by the setting. The Turtles have always been from New York City, and it’s fairly obvious that Gotham is modeled after the Big Apple. That’s what they have in common. That, I think, is where the thought of a Batman/Ninja Turtles crossover has always been rooted.

Pencilling is Freddie E. Williams II, no stranger to Gotham, with a great run on Robin under his belt. That said, his take on Batman’s gear is a little too busy for my taste. He gives him unnecessary shoulder pads, his take on the Grant Morrison/Frank Quitely Batmobile is gaudy, and on the title page (shown right) Batman’s head is a little too small for his body. It’s not his finest hour. That being said, his Ninja Turtles look on-point, as does his Shredder. I also like the texture he brings to his Killer Croc, if not the hunchback look. His layout for pages 3 and 4 is great, with a four large panels spread across the middle, each showing us one of the Turtles draped in shadow. This sequence, and all the others, are given an interesting light from Jeremy Folwell’s paints.

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #21, DonatelloSeeing James Tynion IV’s name on this book was encouraging. There’ve been times where I’ve enjoyed his work on Batman more than his cohort Scott Snyder’s. But again, oddly enough, the guy with a lot of experience on Batman falters with the Batman side of things. There’s a scene between Bruce and Alfred where our favorite brooding avenger of the night is a bit too chatty for my tastes. There’s a similar issue with Killer Croc, for that matter. The Turtles, on the other hand, come out mostly fine. Tynion takes time in the middle of the Turtles’ fight with Croc to play with the “Are the TMNT aliens?” issue from a few years ago. He manages to make this more charming than annoying, so it gets a pass from me.

I don’t expect any sort of grand magnificence from Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But there’s some mild intrigue here. How does Batman get along with the Turtles and Splinter? What happens when Batman fights The Shredder? Things like that, which are inevitably more fun in your head than they are on the page. But it will be interesting to see Tynion, Williams, and this team take a shot at it.

Images from bleedingcool.com.

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A Ninja Turtles: City Fall – Part 2 Review – The Brainwashed Brother

Ninja Turtles, Vol 7: City Fall Part 2TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 7: City Fall – Part 2
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
PENCILLERS: Mateus Santolouco, Charles Paul Wilson III
COLLECTS: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #25-28
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASE DATE: February 12, 2014

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As a life long Ninja Turtles fan, I can’t even tell you how cool it was to see that last page in issue #27, where Bebop and Rocksteady finally make their IDW debut (a portion of which is shown below). Not only that, but they look bad ass. They’ve busted through a wall, and instead of holding ray guns like they did on the old cartoon show, Bebop is holding a friggin’ chainsaw, and Rocksteady’s got a sledgehammer. They look every bit like the sawed off (yet dimwitted) monsters you’d hope they’d be. Granted, it doesn’t really make sense for Rocksteady to have a sledgehammer, given that his fists are twice as big as it’s head. So he should really have the chainsaw. But you know what? Who the hell cares! It’s Bebop and Rocksteady, and they look bad ass!

And hell, that’s just one page of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 7: City Fall – Part 2.

As The Shredder tightens his grip on the organized crime factions in New York City, he has a new second-in-command at his side: Leonardo. Having been brainwashed by the witch Kitsune, Leo now believes his brothers to be dead, and Splinter to be a twisted manipulator. Now the Turtles must fight to bring their brother home, and once again face the Foot Clan head on. But in doing so, they’ll have to form an uneasy alliance with Old Hob and Slash. Meanwhile, Casey Jones sees a side of his estranged father he never knew existed. Sadly, father and soon seem destined to be on opposing sides.

Bebo & Rocksteady, TMNT: City Fall, Part 2The City Fall story feels like something the entire series has been building up to. Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz and the artists have had time to establish this version of the TMNT universe, who everyone is, etc. Thus, a story like this, which alters and shifts a lot of those relationships, is much more meaningful. Our climactic battle between the Turtles and the Foot successfully capitalizes on those high stakes, and is much better than the disappointing first encounter in Shadows of the Past.

The Turtles come into this fight shortly after losing two major battles to the Foot in the previous book, so we’ve got a good sense of just how merciless and powerful our bad guys are, and that it’s entirely possible for our heroes to lose again. Then, we crank up the intensity with the introduction of Bebop and Rocksteady, two enemies who are bigger and stronger than the Turtles, with Shredder, Karai, and a brainwashed Leo waiting in the wings. And all the while, we’ve got an entirely different battle happening elsewhere between Casey and his father, who has become the massive behemoth Hun. It’s a much better constructed, and because of the higher stakes, much more suspenseful than what we saw in Shadows of the Past.

The vision sequences between Leo and his mother Tang Shen are fairly strong, particularly the one at the beginning of issue #26. For one thing, the simple image of an anthropomorphic turtle walking beside a human woman, and looking up at her with such reverence, makes for a compelling visual. But in previous incarnations, we haven’t heard much about the Turtles having a mother. The reincarnation angle used in the IDW series opens up a new creative door in that respect. It might be compelling to see Eastman and Waltz play with this a bit more as the series progresses.

Leonardo, mother, Ninja Turtles, IDWThe biggest drawback in City Fall – Part 2 is that there are technically two fairly significant holes in the story. One involves Alopex, and the reasoning behind a major decision she makes during the book’s climax. The second involves Casey’s father, and how he makes the transformation into Hun. Both these things were addressed in issues of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Microseries: Villains, which runs alongside the regular series. Neither of those issues are collected here. It doesn’t necessarily ruin anything, and for Hun, an annotation is made referencing his particular issue. But it’s frustrating that we don’t get to see how and why these two rather pivotal events take place. It’s one thing for the microseries issues to supplement what’s happening in the main book. It’s another thing entirely to stick major events in there that readers should know about. Ideally, we should be able to get all of our pertinent plot points from the main series. That didn’t happen with City Fall – Part 2.

What I said about Mateus Santolouco’s art in the last volume still stands here. The way he draws their faces, with the beaks that are subtly framed like human noses, and the larger bandanas, they almost have a cutesy quality to them. Cute is definitely not what we’re aiming for here. Still, he does a fantastic job of injecting so many different emotions into not only our resident mutant turtles, but a mutant cat, a mutant snow fox, a mutant rat, etc. However, the best panels in the book are drawn by Charles Paul Wilson III, who handled the first exchange between Leo and his mother (a portion of which is shown above). The brief change in texture and color scheme lent a lot to the notion of it being a vision or a dream sequence.

Ninja Turtles #27, IDWWithout giving too much away, the last page of this story is encouraging. It seems to indicate that Eastman, Waltz, and Ross Campbell (the next artist in the rotation) are going to spend some time examining the consequences of Leo being brainwashed. City Fall tore this family apart, and it looks like the next chapter of this series will be about putting the family back together. Considering we didn’t get that kind of story when Raphael re-joined the team after Change is Constant, that’s good to see. It also looks like the events of this series will, to an extent, be mirroring certain events from Eastman and Peter Laird’s original series for the next several issues.

In the end, City Fall – Part 2 is the best we’ve yet seen from IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. By and large, it’s an emotional story about families being torn apart, and the lengths some will go to in order to bring them back together.

RATING: 8.5/10

Images from tmntentity.blogspot.com. 

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A Ninja Turtles, Vol. 5: Krang War Review – The Battle For Dimension X

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 5: Krang WarTITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 5: Krang War

AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz

PENCILLER: Ben Bates
COLLECTS: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #17-20
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASE DATE: May 8, 2013

By Rob Siebert

Editor, Fanboy Wonder

The Ninja Turtles have always had their share of cosmic adventures, dating back to the original books Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird did. It’s as much a part of their mythology as anything else. That being said, I’ve always preferred my TMNT stories to be more on the Frank Miller side of things. I like my Turtles to be stealthy, rooftop hopping shadow dwellers, as opposed to laser dodging, spaceship flying, alien-fighting adventurers. But even if you come in with that mind set, Krang War is a pretty good Ninja Turtles story.

When the Turtles, April O’Neil and Casey Jones decide to investigate Stockgen further, they shockingly discover that April’s former co-worker Chet is actually the Fugitoid, a robot from Dimension X. Fugitoid contains the consciousness of Honeycutt, a scientist who once warned the high council of the planet Utrominon of their world’s imminent destruction due to their overuse of one of it’s natural resources. But the council refused to heed his warning, and the planet was doomed. Thus, the Utrom warlord Krang is determined to manipulate Earth’s atmosphere to make it a new Utrominon. In the meantime, Krang’s forces have invaded the planet Neutrino. When forces from Neutrino come to Earth and retrieve Chet/Fugitoid/Honeycutt to help them build a weapon, the Turtles are drawn into their war. But how does all this, and the ensuing battle, involve the Shredder’s daughter Karai?

Neutrinos-TMNTI have very little complaining to do about how well Waltz and his various collaborators have brought elements from the original cartoon show into the modern era for this series. Krang War is no exception. Children of the ’80s will recognize the Neutrinos, Kala, Zak and Dask. King Zenter and Queen Gizzla are also there, though in name only. Eastman, Waltz and Bates do a fine job of re-interpreting them for a universe that’s a bit more mature (though not too mature of course). The high-registered, lingo spewing teenagers driving souped up flying cars, replaced with battle-hardened soldiers with familiar hairdos. Krang’s rock soldiers from Dimension X look good too.

Ben Bates’ art is a definite improvement over Andy Kuhn’s in the last volume. Kuhn’s art is fine in it’s own right, but Bates is a much better fit for the Ninja Turtles. He does a great job giving us the cartoony expressions and humor, in addition to the more serious drama and action. In a way it’s a meld of a lot of the great TMNT incarnations through the years. I can see Eastman and Laird, the 4Kids animated series, as well as traces of the current animated series. He brings the pencilling back up to the level it was when Dan Duncan was on the book. Sadly, this book contains his entire four-issue run.

Ben Bates, Ninja Turtles #18I liked the way Karai was worked into this story. Although, there was a weird scene between she and the Shredder in issue #19 where they’re sitting at a table eating while they’re in full combat gear. But on the whole, her presence in the story was a nice way to keep the Foot Clan involved in the proceedings without actually making the story about them. By the time we close the book, we also have something that could finally prompt a meeting between Shredder and Krang. I don’t necessarily see that happening until autumn at the soonest. But I’m guessing it’s in the near future.

IDW’s Ninja Turtles series has had a fairly hit-or-miss existence. They didn’t pay off Raphael’s early separation from his brothers in the first book, and things took a tumble in the third book with the team’s first confrontation with the Shredder. But things have gradually been on the uprise since then. In truth, this is the best the series has been so far. Perhaps it’s a matter of Eastman, Waltz and the creative team finally getting comfortable in their skin as far as this new continuity is concerned. Either way, my hopes aren’t high that things will stay this good. But after 20 issues, at least our creators have a little more experience on their side.

RATING: 7.5/10

Image 1 from teenagemutantninjaturtles.com. Image 2 from 4thletter.net.

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A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Micro-Series, Vol. 1 – Mildly Sexualized Mutant Snow Fox

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Micro-Series, Vol. 1TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Micro-Series, Vol. 1

AUTHOR: Brian Lynch, Tom Waltz
PENCILLERS: Franco Urru, Andy Kuhn, Valerio Schiti, Ross Campbell. Cover by David Peterson.
COLLECTS: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Micro-Series #1-4
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASED: June 20, 2012

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

As a child of the ’80s, there are few books I’m enjoying more than IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, which combines elements from the nearly all incarnations of the TMNT. In addition to the monthly ongoing series, IDW is publishing several Micro-Series issues which run alongside the events of the book. Each issue spotlights a single character, and provides some extra insight as to how their minds work. This book collects the first four Micro-Series issues, each of which focuses on one of the boys in green.

This book is a little tough to get a grip on because each issue takes place at a different point in the story being told in the ongoing TMNT series, with different locations and different characters. From a collection standpoint, I find it a little odd that these issues weren’t collected with Tom Waltz and Dan Duncan’s TMNT issues, so the story could be told in a less confusing, more linear fashion. I suppose it offers an advantage in that the fluctuating artwork lends itself to the different perspectives of the characters. But including these issues with the ongoing story might have increased their level of exposure, as this material really isn’t necessary for the enjoyment of the regular series.

TMNT Micro-Series: Raphael, AlopexRaphael is up first, in what is probably the most notable issue here. Shortly after Raph is reunited with his brothers in Change is Constant, he and Casey Jones are out on patrol. They run into a humanoid arctic fox named Alopex, who initially portrays herself as the victim of a bizarre experiment. But eventually we learn that’s not quite the case. In addition to the debut of our mildly sexualized mutant snow fox here, we also see a pair of familiar looking cretins: Bebop and Rocksteady in human form. This obviously indicates that we’ll be seeing the return of the beloved dimwitted duo in the near future. We also get a brief look at their boss…three guesses who that is. My biggest complaint with Raph’s part of the book is that the debut of Alopex and the return of Bebop and Rocksteady steal the spotlight from him. The story is supposed to be about how he has a sentimental side despite his tough exterior. But that’s not what we come away thinking about. It’s a strong issue, but maybe not for the reasons it wanted to be.

Next we go to Michelangelo, who’s out to have some fun on New Year’s Eve, but stumbles on to a heist. What’s cool about this issue is that it really plays up Mike’s individuality, and his desire to have fun like a normal teenager would. Instead of constantly running drills like Leo, training like Raph, or tinkering with machines like Don, he wants to live his life a little more. This story tells us there’s really nothing wrong with that kind of individuality, and we see Mike realize that the only person (or Turtle, I guess) that he needs to be to find success is himself. Andy Kuhn’s art isn’t normally the type I would enjoy on a Ninja Turtles story. But given Mike’s light-hearted demeanor, it works here.

TMNT Micro-Series: DonatelloWe then move to Donatello. A lot of writers tend to let Don’s role as “the brain” eclipse any other potentially interesting aspect of his personality. That’s not the case here. Brian Lynch and Tom Waltz (who actually wrote the script here) portray Donny as someone whose interests often isolate him from his brothers, who don’t share them at all. He finds some camaraderie and companionship through the anonymity of the internet, where he finds out about a gadget convention and decides to attend. When he finds Baxter Stockman causing trouble, Don and his “internet arch enemy” have to save the day. Valerio Schiti’s art really stands out in this book, as it’s the cleanest and most stripped down compared to the rest. I like the way the internet is used in this story and how Don, like a lot of people, used it as a way to reach out and express himself in ways he can’t at home. It added a new level of depth to his character that I haven’t seen explored before.

The most emotional story in this collection belongs to Leonardo. The issue takes place shortly after Splinter is kidnapped by Old Hob. Now, much like we saw in the original Kevin Eastman/Peter Laird issues, the Turtles must find their lost father. While searching for Splinter, Leo is attacked by countless Foot soldiers (yet another echo from Eastman and Laird), and must fight to survive. As he’s fighting, he flashes back to his childhood, and recalls his mother’s murder at the hands of Oroku Saki (Remember, in this continuity the Turtles and Splinter were originally human before being murdered by the Foot Clan, and reincarnated in their mutant form). As such, Leo snaps and we get a bit of insight as to TMNT Micro-Series: Leonardowhy he’s so dedicated to his family and his training. Ross Campbell’s Turtles are shorter and more stout than what we’re used to seeing from Dan Duncan. But the style works well in its own right. During a few key moments he even diverts from the use of white slits for the Turtles’ eyes in order to give Leo a bit more of an expressive face. The fight between Leo and the Foot is also really suspenseful and well choreographed. It really builds to a fever pitch, making for a sequence fitting for the Turtles’ best fighter.

The book also has a few nice nods to the ’80s cartoon that I really enjoyed as a longtime fan. Mike calls himself a “party dude,” Don’s screen name is duz_machines_84. Little things like that are fun.

While this book is frustrating in how it picks up at various points in the ongoing series, the character development it provides for Leo, Don and Mike is undeniable. Raph didn’t necessarily have a moment like that, but given the extra of attention he always seems to get compared to the others, he’ll survive. If you’ve ever given the Turtles as individuals this much thought, you’ll enjoy this book.

RATING: 8/10

Images 1 and 2 from 4letter.net. Image 3 from thetechnodrome.com.

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A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 1 Review – A New Chapter

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtes, Vol. 1: Change is ConstantTITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtes, Vol. 1: Change is Constant
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
PENCILLER: Dan Duncan
COLLECTS: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1-4
FORMAT: Softcover
PUBLISHER:
IDW Publishing
PRICE: $17.99
RELEASED: February 23, 2012

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Like most children of the ’80s, I love me some Ninja Turtles. My fondness for these four green guys has only grown as I’ve gotten older, and they’ve continued to be interpreted by different writers, artists, animators, etc.  They’re not quite as renowned in the 21st century as they used to be, but the boys in green still have a legacy that’s very, very special.

The next chapter in that legacy is IDW Publishing’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles ongoing, which is overseen by TMNT co-creator Kevin Eastman. It marks Eastman’s first involvement with the franchise in a number of years, as he sold all his rights to the franchise to his co-creator Peter Laird in 2000. The series has tweaked the Turtles’ status quo a bit, but for the most part the characters still ring true.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, IDW, cover spreadThe big twist for this new series is that Raphael has been separated from Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Splinter since the accident that turned them into humanoid mutants. Moments after they were all doused in radioactive ooze (per the classic origin story), a cat leapt in and snatched Raph from the group. Splinter is bound and determined to find his lost surrogate son. Meanwhile, Raphael has been wandering homeless through the streets. Nevertheless, his sense of morality is intact. He comes across a father attacking his teenage son, and saves the day. The young man’s name is Casey Jones (sound familiar?) and the two strike up a fast friendship. Our villain here is Old Hob, the mutated version of the cat who swiped Raphael. Somehow, this humanoid cat with an eye patch started a street gang, and has been feuding with the Turtles and Splinter since their mutation.

Raphael, Old Hob, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Vol. 1I’m not completely sold on this Raphael thing yet. These first four issues did a nice job of setting everything up, but the true test will lay with what Eastman and this team do with this new angle as time goes on. Raphael has always been the hot-headed rebel of the group, and this separation story is an interesting way to set him up as such. Because he’s been away from Splinter and the others his whole life, Raph has never received the training his brothers have. Thus, he could potentially stand out like a sore thumb when he inevitably is placed with his brothers. If this new dynamic can be capitalized on, it could make for some really cool stories.

TMNT purists will scoff at this, but I’m disappointed the Turtles kept their red bandanas for this series, as opposed to going with the color scheme they typically have in TV shows and movies. Yes, when the Turtles were created they all had red bandanas. But the problem I’ve always had with that setup is that it can be difficult to tell them apart. If you take the weapons and the dialogue away, and stand them up side by side, you should ideally still be able to tell who is who. That’s not the case here. The fact that this is a full-color book as opposed to black-and-white, which the Turtles were always published in back at Mirage Studios, makes this choice even less sensical.

Conspicuous by his absence in this story is the Turtles’ arch nemesis, The Shredder, though there is one scene that features a sword-bearing ninja who may turn out to be him. We also see a shadow-shrouded villain named General Krang, who shares a name with one of the main TMNT villains from the ’80s animated show. April O’Neil and Baxter Stockman also play major roles.

Ninja Turtles, IDW, originDan Dunan’s pencils are a strong selling point for this series. He’s great with injecting emotion into his art, which I love. During the scene where the un-mutated Raphael gets snatched away from Splinter and the others, surrogate father and son lock eyes, and we can see the fear and desperation between them. He’s also great at working with the Turtle faces, which there’s certainly something to be said for, as they obviously don’t exist in the real world.

For a few years now, I’ve been craving a Ninja Turtles series that takes the best ingredients from just about every version of the TMNT, and brings it all together to create something that adds on to classic elements, while still keeping things fresh with vibrant storytelling and stunning visuals. This series seems like it has the right attitude to pull that off. Will it happen? Probably not. That’s a pretty high standard to set for any book. But the Turtles deserve no less, so I’ll hold out a bit of hope.

RATING: 7/10

Image 1 from turtlepedia.wikia.com. Image 2 from comixology.com. Image 3 from dreamwidth.org.

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