'Eastman and Laird's Tales of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' Volume 3 collects the first four issues of the 2004 relaunch of the comic series 'Tales of the TMNT'. The stories are written by Steve Murphy and feature events from the early days of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' adventures, each introduced by a different turtle. Despite featuring a Nickelodeon logo on the inside reflecting their ownership of the franchise, the book is an almost-throwback to the original Eastman/Laird comics with some mildly strong violence and censored profanity, originally printed in black and white to cement the comparison. While I've never read the Turtle's original run I hope the quality of writing isn't also reminiscent because this book is abysmal. The first story starts with the words “Charles Darwin's final book was entitled 'The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms', a bestseller when it came out in 1881”. This is paired with an image of the turtles fighting a giant grey earthworm. I could immediately tell that the book was going to either be really good or incomparably stupid. Writer Steve Murphy's idea of writing is front and center on every page of the four issues, full of huge empty swings at profundity and empty metaphor, trying really damn hard to sound cool and intelligent and falling flat without fail. This may seem pretty harsh, and it is, but forgive me if reading “Indians versus explorers, jihad versus McWorld...the subtext of history is the struggle for existence” while paired with the image of the 12-year-old turtles fighting a bunch of naked mutant earthworm elves leaves me pretty confident that this script is amazing bunk.
The art is very dodgy as well, but could be a result of the unwise move by IDW to throw some generic color over a book that was originally printed in black and white. The intention of the artwork was to be viewed without color so it's hard to judge how bad the art is when altered in such a dramatic and unhelpful fashion. The final two stories of the volume have some decent art by Rick Remender of all people, but for the rest of it, it goes from passable to below the average quality of a self-published superhero book at a convention. Of particular note is 'Green', a short story with possibly the worst art I've ever seen published by the major sub-Big Two publishers that left me quite literally yelling at my review copy of the book.
I could go on in detail but nobody really needs that. The book had ambition and apparently no ability to make good on it, reading like an adolescent attempt to write Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtles like it was 'Heavy Metal' or '2000 AD'. IDW would have been better off leaving this one to be quietly forgotten, and I hope whoever reads this will do it for them instead.
Writers: Various Artists: Various Publisher: IDW Publishing Price: $19.99 Release Date: 10/2/13