Allow me to sum up my history with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise… I love it. I am one of those many nerds that still have all of their figures, comics and video games… and a VHS that I received for one of my birthdays. Let’s be clear, this is the first episodes of the cartoon and it’s a very worn out VHS. Am I the biggest Turtles fan? I doubt it, but I was really into the turtles. Like many TMNT fans I have been disappointed by nearly every inception of the turtles since their initial popularity. And yet I still bought the last installment of action figures. They say lightning doesn’t hit the same spot twice and that once the magic is gone… it’s gone for good. For Turtle fans this new book will strike them one of two ways: some will love this new vision of the Turtles from creator Kevin Eastman and co-plotter Tom Waltz, or they will hate it as they always have when a new version comes along. I am not a person that needs my Turtles to remain in a time capsule unchanged and stuck in the same merry-go-round stories year after year. I’m always curious about what new twists will be added, what fresh angle will the next creative team take and at least for a little bit it holds my interest. But nothing like the time from my childhood in which I was referred to as Donatello on the playground and followed Leonardo into battle against our invisible foot soldier army; or the countless hours spent drawing them over and over day in and day out until everyone was either impressed or tired of seeing my mean green fighting machines. Truth be told the last time I enjoyed the turtles was when Erik Larson brought them to Image Comics. And where are those issues? Lost in legal purgatory likely never to be enjoyed again.
So which side of the sewer do I sit on? Am I down there skateboarding through the sludge waiting for the next adventure, or am I using an umbrella to stay dry and get out of this terrible down pour that is the latest installment in the Turtles history? Let’s just say I’ve got my bright pink skateboard with no helmet (those are for sissies), no pads (unless their ninja issue) and a big slice of pizza in my hand. That’s right, the Turtles are back!
This story is not the one you were raised on as a child; it’s darker, grittier and much more reminiscent of the Turtles earlier days in comics than anything else. The biggest thing to change is their origin, GASP, not the origin! Yes and the best part is this issue only gives you half of it. The story opens with Splinter (yeah he’s not pulling a Yoda in this shit, he’s fighting on the front lines!) and the Turtles fighting against a mutated cat by the name of Old Hob. Hob has one eye and an eye patch and a gang of bad ass punks, I instantly loved this character. Splinter tells Hob that they don’t care what he does to the rest of the city, but that they need to leave this chunk alone. Hob tells them to, “eat it” more or less and a battle breaks out. I don’t usually say this in a review, but that’s all you get, go pick the book up because there is a lot more of the story that frankly I’m not going to spoil for it you. Just know that it’s going to be one of the best TMNT stories you’ve read in a long time and I for one am already waiting for the next issue.
The art is spot on and the absolute perfect style for the book. Dan Duncan was the perfect choice for the art as he captures their original comic essence while adding a modern spin on them. Duncan visually captures the action of the fight scenes without making it cluttered or difficult to follow along and that’s very important in such an action heavy title. Ronda Pattison really should be praised for her amazing colors on the book, she’s really what gives it a gritty look, but makes it feel like the Turtles.
I was very apprehensive about this book and frankly it had everything going against it: Nickelodeon, MTV, Eastman returning to the series yet again and years of bad and mishandled reboots. The only part of this equation that didn’t scare me was IDW. They have proven yet again that you can produce great licensed comics without sacrificing story and art, god if only other companies known for adaptations would take a clue from IDW we might actually have some great adaptations. As it stands only time will tell if this is a bright new era for the Turtles, but personally they hooked me again and it’s been a long time since I really cared about them. There are a ton of options this week in the comic shop, but only one will be bringing me in for a copy and its TMNT #1.
Writers: Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz
Artist: Dan Duncan
Publisher: IDW Publishing