Tag Archives: The Shredder

Weekly Comic 100s: Darth Vader, Batman, X-Men/Fantastic Four, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

TITLE: Darth Vader #1
AUTHOR: Greg Pak
ARTISTS: Raffaele Ienco, Neeraj Menon (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer). Variant cover by Chris Sprouse.
RELEASED: February 5, 2020

After the events of Empire, Darth Vader starts investigating Luke’s birth/origins. He journeys back to Tatooine (again). He then goes to Padme’s old apartment on Coruscant, which remains more or less preserved after 20 years. As if it’s a crime scene or something. Based on the ending, I assume we’ll learn more next issue.

I understand it from a storytelling perspective. But in-universe, it’s always a little too convenient that these landmark places all essentially look the same no matter when we see them. That Lars Homestead will still be standing 30 years later

TITLE: Batman #88
AUTHOR:
James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Guillem March, Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer). Cover by Tony Daniel.
RELEASED: February 5, 2020

I wasn’t very nice to Guillem March last time. In fact, I’m rarely depict his work positively. But to his credit, he won me over with this issue. At least a little bit. His rendering of Catwoman in a graveyard on a rainy night is damn near beautiful. The scene with Batman, Penguin, Deathstroke, and the others is also very strong.

At more than one point, it seemed to me like this issue was laying the groundwork for the long-awaited Three Jokers book. Remember, we’re building toward a story in the pages of Batman called “Joker War.”

TITLE: X-Men/Fantastic Four #1 (of 4)
AUTHOR: Chip Zdarsky
ARTISTS: Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson (Inker), Dexter Vines (Inking Assistant), Karl Story (Inking Assistant), Laura Martin (Colorist), Joe Caramagna (Letterer)
RELEASED: February 5, 2020

I’m terrified of X-Men comics. Specifically, the decades worth of continuity and characters. But to this book’s credit, it’s fairly accessible.

Franklin Richards, the mutant teenage son of Reed Richards and Sue Storm, is summoned by Charles Xavier to live with Earth’s mutants on the island nation of Krakoa. This doesn’t sit well with Reed. Naturally, conflict and teen angst ensue.

I’ve been looking for a bridge back into the Marvel Universe. X-Men/Fantastic Four #1 might be it, as it does a nice job setting up both teams, and giving us a compelling main character in Franklin.

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #3
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Simone di Meo, Alessio Zonno, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Igor Monti (Color Assistant), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Dan Mora.
RELEASED: February 5, 2020

We get a fight between Rita and Shredder in this issue. It’s a relatively lengthy battle. And you know what? I’m just going to come out and say it: I wanted this to be one of those fights where the guy and girl hook up at the end. You know how it goes. The passion overcomes them, etc. These two have a lot in common, after all.

What that says about me and these characters from my childhood, I’ll let you decide.

Oh my God. What if Shredder, not Zedd, was actually Thrax‘s father?!?!? Mind blown!!!

TITLE: Young Justice #13
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis, David Walker
ARTISTS: Michael Avon Oeming, Mike Grell, John Timms, Gabe Eltaeb (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer)
RELEASED: February 5, 2020

Well hey there, Mike Grell! It’s been too long! What’s more, Grell gets to once again draw a character he created in Warlord. Warlord and Superboy actually have a pretty nice dynamic in this issue. The experienced elder statesman offering calm words of wisdom to an upset Superboy.

For the moment at least, the Young Justice cast has expanded greatly. If these additional characters stick around, it’s a lot to balance. But it’s still damn good to see a couple of them.

TITLE: Lois Lane #8
AUTHOR: Greg Rucka
ARTISTS: Mike Perkins, Gabe Eltaeb (Colorist), Simon Bowland (Letterer)
RELEASED: February 5, 2020

As much as I’m enjoying having Greg Rucka back at DC, I’m wondering if this needed to be a 12-issue maxi-series. This entire issue felt mostly like filler.

For instance, there’s a scene in this issue where Superman shows up after an attempt on Lois’ life. We take four pages to see husband and wife re-united, and then to see the attention the Man of Steel gets from the local police.

Am I missing something? Why are we seeing this?

On the upside, the assassin that comes after Lois has a pretty cool look.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Weekly Comic 100s: Marvels X, Batman #86, and More!

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Earth X was probably the one big Alex Ross project I knew the least about. So I got myself a nice little education heading into this week’s Marvels X. Low and behold it’s a trilogy. Now a tetralogy, with Marvels X.

Looks like I’ve got some catching up to do. But in the meantime…

TITLE: Marvels X #1
AUTHORS:
Alex Ross (Story), Jim Krueger (Story and Script)
ARTISTS:
Well-Bee, Cory Petit (Letterer). Cover by Ross.
RELEASED:
January 8, 2020

Having not read Earth X, and with this being intended as a prequel, I’m forced to judge this issue simply at face value. And at face value, it’s absolutely fine.

Our main character, a teenager named David, is the one person on in this dystopian future who does not have super powers. Orphaned and alone, he sets out for New York City to find his idols: Captain America, Iron Man, and Spider-Man.

Seeing an artist like Well-Bee tackle a Ross/Krueger concept like this feels different, but intriguing. For now, my interest is piqued.

TITLE: Batman #86
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTISTS: Tony Daniel, Danny Miki (Inker), Tomeu Morey (Colorist), Clayton Cowles (Letterer)
RELEASED: January 8, 2019

For my money, Tynion has a better handle on Batman and his world than Scott Snyder or Tom King. So I’m anxious to see what he turns in.

As Bruce continues to mourn for Alfred, various assassins gather in Gotham. Meanwhile, the issue presents us with an intriguing idea: Over the years, Bruce has randomly sketched, essentially doodled, bits of Gotham’s skyline and architecture as he would have them look. In the wake of “City of Bane,” he has a chance to make those visions a reality. Also, something’s up with the Joker…

So far, so good.

TITLE: The Clock #1
AUTHOR: Matt Hawkins
ARTISTS: Colleen Doran, Bryan Valenza (Colorist), Troy Peteri (Letterer)
RELEASED: January 8, 2020

This is not the most gracefully executed issue. Naturally, it needs to get a lot of exposition out of the way, and it falls into the clunky dialogue trap that comes with that. Also, early on some of the the speech balloons are hard to follow. They don’t contrast with the backgrounds (specifically the outdoor ones) enough, so you have a hard time following who is saying what.

But under all that, The Clock might just be a good story about a super cancer threatening to wipe our half the Earth’s population. But the jury’s still out.

TITLE: Star Wars: The Rise of Kylo Ren #2 (of 4)
AUTHOR: Charles Soule
ARTISTS: Will Sliney, Guru-eFX (Colors), Travis Lanham (Letterer). Cover by Clayton Crain
RELEASED:
January 8, 2020

If you need to be sold on the idea of a book about Luke’s post-Return of the Jedi adventures, look no further than this issue. He faces the Knights of Ren, with both Lor San Tekka and a young Ben Solo at his side. Call it The Adventures of Luke Skywaker, as a take-off of one of Lucas’ early draft titles for Star Wars.

Ben’s interactions with Snoke have a slightly different flavor now that The Rise of Skywalker has come out. Snoke is also wearing his most flamboyant outfit yet. What’s up with the hat…?

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #101
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman (Consultant), Tom Waltz (Consultant), Sophie Campbell (Script)
ARTISTS:
Campbell, Ronda Pattison (Colorist), Shawn Lee (Letterer).
RELEASED:
January 8, 2020

Basically, this book is doing what the 2007 TMNT movie did. Only, you know, better. The Turtles are split up and doing their own thing. And we’ve got kind of an Arkham City spin, as they’ve walled off a portion of New York to throw all the mutants in.

I like this. It’s a big status quo shake-up the series has probably needed for awhile now. Encouragingly, the character that shines the most in this issue is Jennika, our new female Ninja Turtle. Lots of fresh intrigue as this series moves forward.

TITLE: Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2 (of 5)
AUTHOR: Ryan Parrott
ARTISTS: Simone di Meo, Walter Baiamonte (Colorist), Ed Dukeshire (Letterer). Cover by Dan Mora.
RELEASED: January 8, 2020

In this issue we find out why Tommy has joined the Foot Clan. He’s apparently trying to save another clan member we don’t know. This new person’s identity, and how he connects to Tommy, is now far more interesting than the interactions the Turtles are having with the other Rangers.

They pull a stunt with Shredder at the end that I can take or leave. Seeing him meet Rita is pretty cool, though.

God damn, these Dan Mora covers are amazing.

TITLE: Young Justice #12
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTISTS: John Timms, Gabe Eltaeb (Colorist), Wes Abbott (Letterer)
RELEASED: January 8, 2020

At what point do we just make this the new Teen Titans ongoing? Young Justice feels the way that book should feel. At least that’s how I…feel?

This is a pretty dense issue with a lot of standing around and talking. But Superboy does punches a T-Rex. That always counts for something.

We now appear to be headed toward a big Wonder Comics team-up, i.e. Young Justice along with the Wonder Twins and the kids from Dial H For Hero. Thankfully, it looks like it’s all staying within Young Justice, as opposed to a crossover.

Follow Primary Ignition on Twitter, or email Rob at primaryignition@yahoo.com.

Weekly Comic 100s: TMNT #100, Dark Knight ReturnsSuperman

***”Weekly Comic 100s” keeps it nice and simple. Comic book reviews in 100 words or less. Nothing too in-depth here. Just straight, concise, and to the point.***

By Rob Siebert
Fanboy Wonder

Word recently broke about Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird working together again after all these years for a Ninja Turtles story called “The Last Ronin.” How fitting then, that not only does IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #100 comes out this week, but we’ve also got a new Frank Miller book. It’s no secret that Eastman and Laird drew inspiration from Miller’s work in the early to mid ’80s.

Imagine what would have happened if it had the modern Frank Miller back then. Back then you had his work on characters like Daredevil and Wolverine. Now? We’ve got the Dark Knight sequels and Holy Terror. *shudders*

TITLE: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #100
AUTHORS: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz (Script)
ARTISTS: Dave Watcher, Michael Dialynas. Variant cover by Eastman.
SUPPLEMENTAL ARTISTS: Mateus Santolouco, Adam Gorham, Dan Duncan, Cory Smith
COLORISTS: Ronda Pattison, Bill Crabtree
LETTERER: Shawn Lee
RELEASED: December 11, 2019

TMNT #100 is more or less exactly what you want it to be. All recent plot threads converge, and as expected, we see the return of a major villain. Can’t say I expected that death, though. And make sure you don’t miss that epilogue…

The only real complaint I have is that I felt half a step behind because I couldn’t keep up on the Shredder in Hell mini. I suppose that’s the problem when you’ve created a world so rich and dense. You can’t always pack everything into one series. But that’s not necessarily a terrible problem to have.

TITLE: Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child
AUTHOR: Frank Miller
ARTIST: Rafael Grampa. Cover by Grampa and Pedro Cobiaco.
COLORIST: Jordie Bellaire
LETTERERS: John Workman, Deron Bennett
RELEASED: December 11, 2019

My impression when I closed this book was that Miller must either have a ghostwriter working with him, or the editors are heavily involved here. Because this is a surprisingly competent issue to have his name on it in 2019. But if it was mostly Miller? Good on him.

No Bruce Wayne here. Which is kind of odd, but fine with me. Carrie Kelley, Lara, and this Dark Knight universe Jon Kent are more interesting anyway. They’re taking on Darkseid here, and Raphael Grampa’s art looks amazing.

A really good start. But keep your expectations tempered.

TITLE: Superman #18
AUTHOR: Brian Michael Bendis
ARTIST:
Ivan Reis
INKER:
Joe Prado
COLORIST:
Alex Sinclair
LETTERER:
Dave Sharpe
RELEASED:
December 11, 2019

Ugh. Why?

Yes, it’s exactly what it looks like. The same thing they did in 2015, in a storyline that, fittingly, was also called Truth.

It’s not that I don’t think Bendis and this team can do a good job with it. But we were just here. And inevitably, when you do this kind of thing you have to come up with some convoluted way to get the genie back in the bottle. So why even bother?

I will say, though, there’s a single silent page depicting the big moment between Clark Kent and Perry White that’s absolutely beautiful.

TITLE: Something is Killing the Children #4
AUTHOR: James Tynion IV
ARTIST: Werther Dell-Edera
COLORIST: Miquel Muerto
LETTERED BY: Andworld Design
RELEASED: December 11, 2019

In this issue, we get a major revelation about the nature of the monsters devouring children in Archer’s Peak. Tynion takes what I’ll refer to as the “Do you believe in magic?” approach. It’s an interesting twist that I didn’t see coming, and for my money, helps separate this book from the pack. Hopefully he’s given the time to expand on it.

As cool as Erica Slaughter is, part of me actually wants to see her killed off so James can take her place and learn about all this monster stuff. Probably won’t happen. But could be cool.

TITLE: Detective Comics #1017
AUTHOR: Tom Taylor
ARTIST: Fernando Blanco. Cover by Tony Daniel.
COLORIST: John Kalisz
LETTERER: Travis Lanham
RELEASED: December 11, 2019

A nice little one-and-done. I like when they do these. In the context of Detective Comics, it reminds me of Paul Dini’s run all those years ago.

Our story deals with missing children at the Martha Wayne Orphanage in Gotham. Taylor shows us a more sensitive and empathetic side of Batman and Robin. Also, the art in this issue really stands out, as Kalisz uses a more saturated color palette, while our inks are darker. He even gives us a sort of saturated sepia tone for the opening flashback that sets the scene really well.

TITLE: Go Go Power Rangers #26
AUTHORS: Ryan Parrott, Sina Grace
ARTISTS: Francesco Mortarino
COLORIST: Raul Angulo
LETTERER: Ed Dukeshire
RELEASED: December 11, 2019

One of the big selling points of this book early on was it was set in the pre-Green Ranger days. Tommy, one way or another, inevitably pulls focus from the other characters. It’s a little sad that the emphasis has shifted that way.

But Parrott is still the best PR writer we’ve seen from this BOOM! Studios run with the license. Oddly enough, what I enjoyed most about this issue was a flashback to Tommy eating a meal with Rita at the palace. As a kid, I always wanted to see him in there interacting with the other villains.

TITLE: Dying is Easy #1 (of 5)
AUTHOR: Joe Hill
ARTIST: Martin Simmonds. Cover by J. Lou.
COLOR ASSISTANT: Dee Cunniffe
LETTERER: Shawn Lee
RELEASED: December 11, 2019

Cop turned stand-up comic. Now there’s something you don’t see every day.

If grim-and-gritty is your thing, this book is right up your alley. If there’s a seedy underbelly to the world of stand-up, this book is smack in the middle of it. Simmonds and Cunniffe do a tremendous job using the colors to create an ominous, foreboding vibe. Ultimately, that pays off on the last page…

Fittingly, the book also manages to be funny in a black comedy sort of way. I’m not totally sold yet, but I may indeed be back for more.

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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.

A Batman/TMNT Adventures #2 Review – Send in the Clowns

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #2, 2016TITLE: Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures #2
AUTHOR: Matthew K. Manning
PENCILLER: Jon Sommariva
PUBLISHERS: DC Comics/IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: December 14, 2016

***Miss issue #1? Catch up here!***

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

There’s a school of thought that says the comics based on Batman: The Animated Series, created by the Paul Dini, Kelley Puckett, Rick Burchett, Ty Templeton, etc, were some of the best Batman stories to come out of the ’90s and early ’00s. Looking at something like Mad Love, it’s tough to dispute that. I’m certainly not comparing Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to Mad Love, but the charming simplicity of it reminds me of those older books.

This sophomore issue sees the Batman and TMNT of two different generations meet, as they investigate strange dimensional portals. Little do they know that other cross-dimensional meetings have also occurred. The Joker and Harley Quinn have lured Shredder and the Foot Clan into a trap. But as our heroes will soon learn, yet another Arkham escapee is in New York, and they’re looking for a fight.

Batman/TMNT Adventures #2, Rick Burchett coverAs one might expect, with two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures regulars on this title, it leans more in the TMNT direction in terms of look and tone. It’s still the Animated Series Batman. But the word “animated” has rarely been more emphasized. He, and the characters from his world, all essentially look like they’re appearing on the TMNT cartoon. As one might expect, the Joker and Harley feel this transition the least.

And yes, we are allowed to see the reverse effect, if only on a variant cover by Rick Burchett (shown left).

I was pleasantly surprised at how funny this issue was. Not laugh out loud funny. But I was tickled. There’s a bit where Joker is “struggling” to remember Shredder’s name, calling him things like Slicer, Grater, and the Juicer. Mikey later calls Robin a pirate, because of the “R” on his chest. It’s objectively stupid. But it’s fun. Perhaps I’m a little more receptive to the humor this time around, given how much more I’m enjoying it than the Tynion/Williams story (no offense, gents).

That scene with Joker, Harley, and the Foot was a bit of a head-scratcher, as Mr. J simply outwits them. The TMNT buff in me wanted a more even exchange between them. But it’s early, of course. And from a story perspective, I imagine you have to find some way to justify Shredder wanting to team with this crazy clown. He’s obviously smarter than he seems. And as we find out in our cliffhanger, the team-up thing seems to be going around.

Batman/TMNT Adventures #2, Jon Sommariva

Batman/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Adventures has been a pleasant surprise. A fun ride for fans young and old. I’m most certainly coming back for a third slice!

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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 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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