Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Micro-Reviews

A TMNT #122 Micro-Review – Turtles in Costume!

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #122
AUTHORS: Sophie Campbell, Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (Story Consultants)
ARTISTS: Jodi Nishijima, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer)
RELEASED: October 20, 2021

The Turtles dress up for Halloween in this issue, and I found myself wishing the creators would have had a little more fun with their costumes. Mikey dresses up as Hellraiser, and Leo dresses like an old woman who I’d like to think is Mrs. Doubtfire. But they had three more Turtles they could have had fun with!

All these issues later, I still find it surreal to read a TMNT book where the Turtles are working to form their own government. What’s more, that the book is devoting so much time to it.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Micro-Reviews

A TMNT: The Last Ronin #4 Micro-Review – Scope Overblown

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TMNT The Last Ronin 4, cover, 2021TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #4
AUTHOR: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz
ARTISTS: Eastman, Esau & Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, Luis Delgado (Colorist), Samuel Plata (Color Assistant)
RELEASED: September 22, 2021

Coming in, The Last Ronin felt (to me at least) like it was going to be a small scale personal story involving Michelangelo, Oroku Hiroto, and maybe April O’Neil and her daughter. Instead, they’ve gone too big with it and make it into an almost militaristic save-the-world story. The scope has been blown way out of proportion.

Case in point, the most interesting scene in this issue is the one-on-one time between Mikey and April’s daughter. I’d have gladly taken more of that over the sci-fi warfare stuff.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Micro-Reviews

A TMNT #119 Micro-Review – Ninja…Tykes?

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 119, Nelson Daniel, cover, 2021TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #119
AUTHORS: Sophie Campbell, Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (Story Consultants)
ARTISTS: Nelson Daniel, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer)
RELEASED: July 14, 2021

There’s a fairly dramatic tone shift in the middle of this issue. We go from who I’ll call the Ninja Tykes, four cute little kid mutants imitating the Turtles, to what appears to be an attempted murder. Not saying it’s good or bad. It’s just sudden.

Herman the Hermit Crab makes his return in this issue. I must confess, I missed him. Now if only Pidgeon Pete were around…

This series continues to do things outside the TMNT “comfort zone.” This time, it’s the Turtles taking out multiple snipers as they attempt to take out a would-be politician.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Micro-Reviews

A TMNT #118 Micro-Review – Shredder? Is That You?

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TMNT 118, cover, 2021, Nelson DanielTITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #118
AUTHORS: Sophie Campbell, Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (Story Consultants)
ARTISTS: Nelson Daniel, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer)
RELEASED: June 23, 2021

So wait…is this the Shredder we know? Or is it the Shredder from adult Lita’s bright alternate future? I’m thinking it must be the latter, as we see the two know each other.

There’s a pretty cool sequence in this issue involving April O’Neil, an “associate” of Baxter Stockman’s, and a pair of mutant eels. It’s surprisingly violent. Amidst all the mutant characters that are now in TMNT, it’s easy for April to get lost in the shuffle. So it’s nice to see her get the spotlight here.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Micro-Reviews

A TMNT #117 Micro-Review – A Battle of the Bands…or Not?

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #117
AUTHORS: Sophie Campbell, Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz (Story Consultants)
ARTISTS: Campbell, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer). Pride month variant cover by Eastman.
RELEASED: June 9, 2021

TMNT has been building to a battle of the bands for the last several issues. In this issue it looks like we’re finally going to get it…only for them to call it off at the last minute.

Normally I’m not a big fan of musical performances in comics. Obviously they don’t really lend themselves to the medium. But I was willing to give TMNT the benefit of the doubt, to the point where I’m actually disappointed they didn’t go through with it. They might have actually been able to turn in something fun!

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Micro-Reviews

A TMNT: The Last Ronin #3 Micro-Review – A Grumpy Old Turtle

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TMNT The Last Ronin 3, cover, 2021TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Last Ronin #3
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Tom Waltz
ARTISTS: Eastman, Esau & Isaac Escorza, Ben Bishop, Luis Delgado (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer)
RELEASED: May 26, 2021

These Last Ronin books are all great looking. But for yours truly, the most interesting artistic element is how our lead character looks as that grizzled old man. It’s not often you get to see the Ninja Turtles age, as they’re obviously prominently portrayed as teenagers. So to see the line and ink work on an older, more ragged Ninja Turtle is interesting.

From a story perspective, I’m ready for the action to start up again. Hopefully that’s what they give us next time.

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels

Weekly Comic 100s: TMNT #116

***This is where we keep it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #116
AUTHOR: Sophie Campbell, Tom Waltz & Kevin Eastman (Story Consulting)
ARTISTS: Campbell, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer)
RELEASED: April 21, 2021

There’s a little reference in this issue to a song from the old Ninja Turtles Coming Out of Their Shells Tour. And a fairly organic one, given how music-oriented these last several issues have been. I got a good chuckle out of it.

Also, apparently Raphael can rap. Who knew?

I’m curious to see how they pull off this battle of the bands, which is apparently coming up next issue. Music and comics don’t always mix well, because obviously you can’t hear the music in question. This is going to be interesting…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.

Posted in Comic Books/Graphic Novels, Deep Dive Reviews

A TMNT #2937 Deep-Dive – Cutesy Turtles

***This year marks the 10-year anniversary of IDW Publishing’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. In celebration, we here at Primary Ignition will be looking back at the book as a whole. For some, this has emerged as the definitive version of the TMNT. Here is why…***

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #29-37
AUTHORS: Tom Waltz, Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow
ARTISTS: Sophie Campbell, Mateus Santolouco, Cory Smith
GUEST ARTIST: Mark Torres
COLORIST: Ronda Pattison
LETTERER: Shawn Lee
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
COLLECTED IN: TMNT: The IDW Collection, Vol. 4 (shown right)
RELEASED: December 2013 – August 2014

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I don’t usually go for what I call, “Cutesy Turtles,” i.e. the boys in green drawn in a cute and cuddly style. That’s not to say the Turtles shouldn’t have softer, gentler moments. But remember, the Turtles are martial artists. They’re ninja. They’re warriors. They should look ready and able to fight at any given time

Sophie Campbell provides a unique and rare exception to that rule. I’d classify her take on the Turtles as cute. But there’s also a sensitive quality to her take that made it perfect for the four-issue “Northampton” story arc in IDW’s TMNT series.

The whole “retreat to a farm” plot point dates back to the original Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird comic book and has been adapted into various TMNT media over the years. It always involves the Turtles recovering after getting beaten down by the Foot, and eventually making a triumphant return to the city. The IDW series presented it with a new twist: Leonardo recovering after being brainwashed by the Foot. It wasn’t just a matter of recovering from a beat down. It was about coming together and healing as a family.

I think one would be hard-pressed to debate that Campbell’s art in these issues has a cute quality to it. But there’s more to it than that. This is as emotionally transparent and as vulnerable as the Turtles have ever looked. Part of that is because of the “softer” look Campbell gives them. Another part involves her decision to draw them with eyeballs, as opposed to the white slits many artists use, eyes being a “window to the soul” and what not. The general autumn aesthetic of “Northamption” plays a role too. Campbell and colorist Ronda Pattison’s greater emphasis on fall colors is a subtle message that we’ve got a front row seat to a time of change and transformation in these characters’ lives.

From a writing perspective, it’s interesting to pay attention to each individual Turtle during these issues. TMNT #30 in particular. Each brother deals with the blows they’ve been dealt in his own way. Michelangelo narrates the issue via a letter to Woody. Thus, he reaches out to others while expressing himself creatively. Leonardo desperately seeks guidance from a mentor, in this case his mother (more on her in a moment). Raphael, perhaps predictably, seeks out confrontation with Alopex, who is on her own journey of self discovery. Understated but no less important is Donatello’s emergence as a healer. We see him tend to Splinter’s wounded leg and act as a friendly ear for Leo. This emphasizes that his contributions to the Turtle clan go far beyond that of a simple Mr. Fix-It.

On the subject of healing, not to be lost in the shuffle is April O’Neil, and her role in the saga of the Turtles. We learn in “Northampton” that her father, now disabled after suffering a stroke, was once a scientist who had a hand in testing and developing the mutagen that transformed the Turtles and Splinter into their present state. The O’Neil family will later learn that the “ooze” in question has miraculous healing properties. That’s a new spin on the green goo that’s become synonymous with the TMNT over nearly three decades. More than anything else, it opens up some interesting storytelling doors…

The Turtles have always had a father figure in Master Splinter. But rarely if ever had there been a maternal figure in the story. Historically, the closest thing to one came in the form of Tang Shen, who we’d see via flashbacks as a love interest for the future Splinter, Hamato Yoshi. She would always meet a bloody end thanks to the Shredder.

In the IDWverse, Shen is cast not only as Yoshi’s beloved wife in feudal Japan, but the mother of their four sons. Centuries later, Yoshi is reincarnated as Splinter, and his sons return as four turtles. Shen, on the other hand, becomes a spectral presence, and for the first time has a role in the ongoing story of the TMNT. We saw her briefly during “City Fall,” and we see her once again during “Northampton.” Campbell and Pattison’s presentation becomes downright tender, and also brighter during Shen scenes (shown left). Fittingly, it also has a bit more of an Asian influence. It’s a unique visual, seeing this woman behave in a motherly way with these anthropomorphic animals. And needless to say, her relationship to the Turtles and Splinter is unlike any we’ve seen in the series.

Family continues to be one of the central themes for the book heading out of “Northampton,” into issue #33. The relationship, or lack thereof, between Casey Jones and his father, now the massive brute called Hun, takes centerstage. Present since the very first issue, this plotline is one of the more prevalent byproducts of presenting a younger Casey Jones. In other media, the character has almost always been a grown adult. Making him college-aged allows us to see not only a young man whose identity is still forming, but a character that’s often much more vulnerable than our traditional hockey-mask wearing ass kicker. And thus, more interesting. The downside? A jacked up dude in a hockey mask is a lot more intimidating and formidable than some teenager walking around with golf clubs and a hockey stick.

The truly tragic element of the Jones family story is that by this point in the series, Hun does actually want to help Casey. He wants to do what, in his mind, is best for his son by giving him a bunch of cash and sending him off to start a new life for himself. All the while, Hun would be staying in New York working for Shredder, the man who stabbed Casey and put him in the hospital. Hun may want what’s best for his son, but it’s clear where his loyalties are. And when Casey refuses his offer, we get an all too grim look at just who Arnold Jones has become.

Issue #33 also sees Mateus Santolouco return on pencils and inks. My complaints from last time about Santolouco’s Turtles looking too inflatable and puffy still stand. But oddly enough, his renderings of Slash, another mutant turtle, are perfectly fine. Granted, Slash is a different species of turtle, and is larger than our four boys in green. He also has an entirely different texture to his skin, which Santolouco draws beautifully. All Santolouco’s mutant characters (the four Turtles notwithstanding) are very charismatic and expressive. Not just Slash, but Old Hob, Pidgeon Pete, the Rat King, among many others. So it becomes that much easier to get invested in these characters and their world.

And yes, I did say the Rat King (shown below). Another TMNT “legacy” character that’s appeared in various media over the years, his trademark is his ability to control rats. Naturally, that becomes a problem for Splinter. The Rat King of the IDWverse has a more supernatural, and frankly demonic quality to him. As one might expect, he’s hardly a one-off baddie, and has his place in the larger tapestry of this series. But for now, he simply puts Splinter and Leo through the ringer, content to play again another day…

This portion of the book also lays a good amount of foundation for things to come. We spend more time with tech genius Harold Lilja, who we met in Donatello’s Micro-Series issue. There’s also Nobody, a vigilante/superhero who’s loosely the TMNT equivalent to Iron Man. She emerges when Angel, a friend of Casey’s and member of the Purple Dragons, dons a tech suit created by Harold.

Harold’s latest creation is Metalhead, a turtle-shaped cyborg and TMNT legacy character who’ll serve a purpose the likes of which readers will never see coming. I was impressed with what the IDW team did with Metalhead, specifically his “four-legged” battle mode.

Issue #37 and a portion of #36 see Cory Smith take a turn on artistic duties. Smith’s style is somewhat akin to what Ben Bates turned in during his time on the series, with a touch of Dan Duncan thrown in as well. It feels very familiar. As always, Pattison’s work brings a wonderful consistency to it all.

Smith gets the tall task of drawing the series’ first meeting between Shredder and Krang. Or at least the first meeting we’ve seen, as it turns out they’ve met before. I don’t love that approach, as I think it would have been much more interesting to see these two would-be dictators and forces for evil meet for the first time and size each other up. But what we get nonetheless has intrigue to it. They meet for what’s almost a business negotiation. As one might expect, things break down.

The four “Northampton” issues are the real selling point for this cluster of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. It puts our characters in a new environment and studies them during a period of vulnerability. It’s not a matter of the book dipping in quality. Rather, it’s about setting the table for things to come. And rest assured, big things are coming…

Email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com, or check us out on Twitter.