Tag Archives: Mateus Santolouco

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.

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A TMNT Universe #1 Review – “Your First Step into a Larger World.”

TMNT Universe #1, Freddie E. Williams II, coverTITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #1
AUTHORS: Paul Allor, Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
PENCILLERS: Damian Couceiro, Bill Sienkiewicz, Eastman. Cover by Freddie E. Williams II.
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $4.99
RELEASED: August 31, 2016

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz, and the crew at IDW have been creating good to great TMNT comics for several years now. This new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe series opens the door for even more. If this freshman issue is an indicator of things to come, we’ve got mostly good things ahead of us.

The Turtles and April O’Neil are hoping they can make an ally of Baxter Stockman. But Agent Bishop and the Earth Protection Force are in hot pursuit of the boys in green. Our heroes will soon find themselves in a fight to survive. Then in our back-up story, Leo faces off against the Foot Clan by himself. Despite his skills, he may be hopelessly outnumbered.

Paul Allor is no stranger to the Turtles, having written a number of their adventures for IDW. His experience is evident here, as he writes a damn good opening page. We get a glimpse into Bishop’s psyche, and why he opposes mutants the way he does. It’s a misguided, though relatable sentiment.

TMNT Universe #1, sonic weaponAllor uses this first issue to remind us that the Turtles, and mutants in general, are isolated and at times hated. Though Bishop’s motivation, while villainous, is relatable in its own way. As one might expect, the most emotional reaction we get comes from Raphael, and it’s used effectively to close the issue.

Allor also isn’t bad with the repartee between the Turtles. Panels like the one above aren’t exactly dripping with wit. But they’ve got a nice charm to them that we don’t always have time for in the main TMNT series.

Couceiro, who’s on both the pen and inks for this issue, is a solid fit for the Turtles. He’s got a really nice command of light and shadow, which obviously bodes well for our shadow-bound heroes. He also doesn’t draw their bandanas too large, which I tend to chide Mateus Santolouco, and more recently Dave Watcher for. I do, however, have one thing to nitpick: His Turtles are very toothy. He draws toothy Turtles. Panels like the ones below actually take me out of the story, as I can’t help but stare at their teeth. On the plus side, they’re very white. Splinter must have gotten the boys good dental insurance.

TMNT Universe #1, back-up, LeonardoOur back-up story is about Leo trailing a Foot ninja, who as it turns out, has some friends. A lot of friends. When I initially read this story, I thought it was scripted by Kevin Eastman. Leo’s inner monologue reads like one of the original Mirage books. He seems more like an easy going teenager, and less like the disciplined leader we usually see. But the issue credits Tom Waltz for the script. I’m not sure why Leo is so casual here. It almost strikes me as out of character.

This is also a premise that’s been done to perfection in both the original Eastman and Laird series, and the IDW series. It’s Leo against a bunch of foot ninjas. This story is set to continue next issue, so hopefully they do something with this concept we haven’t seen before. Eastman handles the page layouts, slowing the pace a bit to take us into the action. Bill Sienkiewicz and colorist Tomi Varga are a good fit for the Turtles, providing the gritty, street-level feel the story needs.

Like many things in life, this issue reminds me of a line from Star Wars. In the original 1977 film, Obi-Wan says to Luke: “You’ve taken your first step into a larger world.” In a sense, that’s what Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Universe #1 is. Chances are good that this series will really enrich what IDW has created for the Turtles. Dare I say, cowabunga?

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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.

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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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