Tag Archives: Master Splinter

Astonishing Art: TMNT by Matt DeMino

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

It honestly wasn’t my intent to do another “Astonishing Art” so soon after the last one. Much less another dedicated to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. But today’s piece popped up in my Instagram feed today, and I simply couldn’t resist.

Chances are at some point you’ve seen the image at right, or at least some version of it. It’s the classic Norman Rockwell painting “The Runaway,” which made its debut on the cover of The Saturday Evening Post in 1958. It’s textbook Rockwellian America. A naive young runaway sits in a diner under the protective eyes of a policeman and the counterman. As one might imagine, artists have been tipping their hat to it for a long time.

Cast in point, our subject today: A TMNT-inspired spin on “The Runaway” by Matt DeMino. This piece first appeared on the official TMNT Twitter account yesterday.

Damn. Right in the feels. Especially as an ’80s kid who grew up on a steady Ninja Turtles diet. Who among us didn’t run around with a pillow on our backs and a ninja headband on? The boys in green were our heroes, This image could have been plucked from the dreams of a million kids back then. It still could today.

But this one is clearly for the ’80s/’90s crowd. The references to the three original live action movies are pretty blatant. Casey Jones is sporting his look from Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Movie. You’ve got the Shredder helmet from that same movie on the counter. The scepter from the third movie is sitting at Raph’s feet. And on the lower left, you can see the broken canister from The Secret of the Ooze. Yeah, you might say I’ve watched those movies a few times…

This isn’t the first time DeMino has been commissioned to work on the Ninja Turtles. The piece at left came out on Thanksgiving last year. Note the same analog Coke can design in both scenes.

Clearly, DeMino’s take on the Turtles and Splinter is very reminiscent of the old movies. Hey, that’s how I’d do it too. That original Steve Barron film is still the definitive presentation of the TMNT, for my money. After all these years, it still holds up.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

Advertisements

Astonishing Art: TMNT by Royden Lepp

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

I’m usually turned off when artists get too cute with the Ninja Turtles. I like my TMNT a little darker and grittier. That’s more or less how they were originally conceived, after all. But of course, there are exceptions that make the rule.

As it turns out, Royden Lepp is one such exception. I’m a big fan of Lepp’s Rust books. So perhaps it’s no coincidence that this digital rendering of the TMNT features a little bit of the sepia tone Lepp uses in Rust.

The Turtles are all wearing their red bandanas here (again, as they were originally conceived). Thus, it’s harder to tell who is who. I’m sure Lepp knows for sure. But my theory is from left to right it’s Donnie, Mike, Leo, and Raph. I can just picture them running alongside Jet Jones, a trail of fire and smoke in their wake.

Rust: Soul in the Machine, the final installment in the Rust series, is out now.

Email Rob at PrimaryIgnition@yahoo.com, or follow Primary Ignition on Twitter.

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #65 Review – Sewer Christmas Party

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #65, 2016, cover, ChristmasTITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #65
AUTHOR: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
PENCILLER:
Mateus Santolouco
PUBLISHER:
IDW Publishing
PRICE:
$3.99
RELEASED: 
December 14, 2016

***Need to catch up? Check out last issue!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I didn’t expect to like this issue as much as I did, primarily because of what happened in issue #61. I’ve called that “the meeting issue,” because it contains one of the oddest scenes I’ve ever seen in a TMNT book. It’s essentially a big war council scene with all the good guys talking strategy. The promise of all these characters being together for a Christmas party, along with my general distaste for “Christmas episodes” (bah humbug), made me nervous. Thankfully, this story about a Christmas party stays fairly upbeat, and weaves in some nice character work.

The boys in green are more in need of holiday cheer than ever. They now find themselves estranged from their Master Splinter after the events of issue #64. Mikey throws a Christmas party in an attempt to boost morale. But one question remains unanswered: Who invited the Mutanimals?

tmnt-65, pepperoniMateus Santolouco is back on the pencil for this issue. I’ve been a little critical of him in recent months. But given how long he’s worked on this series, his art does feel like a homecoming of sorts. Santolouco is also tremendous at injecting excitement and enthusiasm into his characters. Look at Mikey on the cover. Look at the way he draws Pigeon Pete. Cartoony? Yes. But also a lot of fun.

This issue was also my first exposure to Pepperoni, Raphael’s pet baby dinosaur. Having skipped Turtles in Time and Bebop and Rocksteady Destroy Everything, I was woefully unprepared for this little pink creature running around. On the upside, Santolouco makes him an adorable addition.

While I’ll keep things spoiler free, Splinter makes a brief appearance in this issue. Tonally, it’s odd. We left things in a very somber, painful place with Splinter last month. This month he’s feeling rather…Christmasy. It’s a cool idea. But Splinter is the one character I would have kept immune to all this holiday cheer.

This issue also introduced Angel/Nobody to Woody the pizza guy. This had sort of a Steve-Urkel-meets-Laura-Winslow vibe to it. (Look it up, kids.) This could very well have been a one-off. But it was charming enough to merit a revisit down the road.

TMNT #65 was a nice bit of levity, and a break from the intensity we’ve had in the last few months. Though I suspect next month we’ll crank that intensity right back up. So we may want to enjoy this respite while we can.

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

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #64 Review -Toothpaste and Orange Juice

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #64, 2016, Kevin Eastman variantTITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #64
AUTHOR: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
PENCILLER: Dave Watcher
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: November 23, 2016

***WARNING: Spoilers lay ahead, and they’re coming up quickly!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This one was a head-scratcher, and not the first one TMNT has turned in since this whole “Splinter leads the Foot Clan” thing started. What we have is an issue that starts out very strong, builds to fitting climax, and then veers off in an unexpected direction. It’s not necessarily a good direction, either. It’s almost like taking a swig of orange juice after brushing your teeth.

In Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #64, our heroes storm the base of Darius Dun and the Street Phantoms, hoping to rescue their ally Harold. But in the process, things go south. Allegiances change, and more importantly, families are split apart.

Let’s jump right into spoiler territory, as that’s where my main point of contention with this issue is. During the climax, Splinter has Darius Dun killed. This leads Don, Raph, and Mike to immediately leave the Foot. Splinter tells Leo that the Turtles aren’t safe by his side now that he leads the Foot Clan, and he’s been resorting to drastic measures to break their loyalty and push them away. As you see below, the exchange ends with Leo saying he understands, and walking away.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #64, 2016, Dave Watcher, Splinter explanationI’m glad he understands, because I’m not sure I do.

Let’s unpack this: So Splinter’s end game, at least recently, has been to keep the Turtles safe. So why make this move now? Why not back when you were going against the Foot Clan? Why not when Donnie had his brush with death? Why not after they were reunited with Raph way back in issue #4? This entire ninja crusade was Splinter’s idea to begin with. But now that he’s in a position to control the enemy forces from within, he’s suddenly got cold feet about the whole thing? So much so that he’s willing to alienate himself from his sons? It all feels very forced. I can only assume there’s something else going on that we don’t know about. Otherwise, you’d think Splinter would know what the readers already know: This will only lead to the Turtles coming back to try and save Splinter from himself.

As it’s still so fresh, I’m hesitant to judge this development too harshly. But this feels like a case where an extra line or two would have done wonders. We can’t tell just how much Splinter is second-guessing himself at this point. But something like “I’ve gone too far” seems appropriate.

Adding to the awkward nature of this scene is the build-up to it, which is really actually really good. In the opening scene, Casey Jones explains Splinter’s plan to make him the leader of the Purple Dragons, “to help you guys run the city after we trash the phantoms.” The letterer emphasizes that word run, and for good reason. It’s rare that a single word literally makes a scene. But there you have it.

TMNT #64, 2016, HaroldWe also have some nice stuff between Harold and his estranged ex-wife Libby. Harold’s been around for awhile, and has been a nice supporting techie character. But I never expected they’d give him this sort of depth. It all comes about quite organically. It’s a pleasant surprise.

While I’m still picking on him over the whole bandana/beak thing, Dave Watcher has become one of my favorite TMNT pencillers in recent memory. His stuff has a sketchy quality to it, which for me evokes memories of the original Kevin Eastman/Peter Laird stuff. His renderings of Harold and Libby make the scene very accessible. He’s also very good at drawing TMNT tech. Look at what Libby’s wearing in the above panel. It somehow looks believable, doesn’t it?

I’m not much of a variant cover guy. But I almost always make an exception for the ones Kevin Eastman does for this book, such as the one shown above. I love the concept, and I love how shadowy and moody it is. The one thing I don’t love? Splinter’s tail. It’s curvature is too sharp, and it pulls you right out of the scene.

After all this time, I still maintain that this TMNT crew missed a huge opportunity by not taking advantage of what they established early on with Raph. Unfortunately, what we’re presented with in this issue could be just as big a misstep. We need more information on why Splinter is doing what he’s doing, or this story might lose a lot of punch. But I’ll give them this much: They’ve got me coming back for next issue.

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

A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #61 Review – This Meeting is Called to Order!

TMNT #61, coverTITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #61
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman, Tom Waltz
PENCILLER: Dave Wachter
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: August 24, 2016

***WARNING: Some spoilers ahead for Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #61.***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Putting Splinter and the Turtles at the head of the Foot Clan opened a lot of interesting storytelling doors. But I never expected those doors to lead to a seven-page council meeting.

But indeed, much of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #61 consists of our heroes sitting at a table, plotting their next moves. To be fair, they have a lot on their plate. Kitten’s attack from issue #59 caught them off guard, and now both she and Alopex are missing. The Street Phantoms continue to plague the city, prompting the creation of new tech. All the while, Michelangelo continues to sever himself from his family’s involvement with the Foot, creating an uncomfortable and unprecedented divide.

I used to be a beat reporter in the Chicagoland area. Part and parcel to that is covering board meetings. City council, park district, etc. I used to dread those meetings. They usually came on the heels of an eight-hour day, and they usually revolved around things that weren’t altogether very exciting.

TMNT #61, meetingWhile I’d much rather see the Ninja Turtles conduct such a meeting, that seven-page scene was a little too reminiscent of my reporter days. One of the major strengths of this book is how rich and dense the world created for it is. So much so that IDW is creating a separate series dedicated to TMNT‘s supporting characters. But if we’ve gotten to the point where we need to stop the story and spend multiple pages spelling out which characters are doing what, perhaps something’s wrong.

The upside is that we get some nice character work revolving around this meeting. Mike once again refuses to be part of the Foot, calling Splinter out for being more concerned about Alopex’s ability to fight in a war than her health. We also see Leo show kindness to Jennika. I’m a bit perplexed as to why we needed yet another character in this book. But if our creative team has earned nothing else, it’s the benefit of the doubt.

There’s also a really nice scene between Splinter and Casey Jones. It’s obviously important to establish Splinter is still the kind soul he’s always been, despite his new role. Casey asks if Splinter rejects killing the Shredder. He gives an answer about abhorring violence, but wanting to protect those he loves most. There’s an intriguing subtext here, considering Splinter may soon be in a position to kill many more as leader of the Foot.

TMNT #61, 2016, Dave WatcherDave Watcher has done fine on the pencil these last few issues. His style is sketchier than many of TMNT’s previous artists, which makes him a nice fit for street-level scenes, such as our opener with Donnie, Nobody, and the Street Phantoms. He also does some terrific cover work, especially next month’s with Casey Jones.

Major credit must also be given to Ronda Pattison, who’s been the colorist on this book since day one. We’ve seen several artists give their take on the Turtles since they came to IDW. But Pattison has given this series a great consistency, and a nice familiarity when we open each new issue.

I have a tendency to nitpick at the way certain artists draw the Turtles. That’s what being a fanboy for 25 years will do to you. Obviously there’s no textbook way to draw the boys in green. But both Watcher and TMNT great Mateus Santolouco draw their bandanas too big for my taste. It’s a little quirk to both artists styles, which are otherwise delightful. You could cut those suckers down a bit at each end and be perfectly fine. They tend to drape too far down over the “beak,” and go annoyingly high above the eye.

I’m hopeful TMNT Universe will allow this title be a little less inflated. IDW has something really solid with the world they’ve created in this book. It begs to be explored, as they’ve done in numerous minis. A second ongoing should allow them to do it on a more consistent level, and take some of the pressure off the main series.

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

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/

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/