I remember in the first issue of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles when I saw Old Hob for the first time I thought he was an awesome character. His connection to the Turtles origin story was a cool new twist and I honestly thought that they would be fighting him for a good while before the introduction of better known Turtle villains, but that didn’t turn out to be the case. The series didn’t suffer from it, but it was definitely a big “what if” in my book. Sadly, this issue isn’t as good as the first two in the villain’s micro-series. Whereas we saw Krang go from a helpless brain with arms to a fierce killer and Baxter Stockman’s true colors and hidden intellect were revealed; here we see Hob follows the path of a gangster and nothing else really. It’s a shame because there’s a ton of potential for him, but they seem to be content with making him a thug. Sure they paint the picture of intelligence in this issue, but the problem is that good villains need to think more than two moves ahead and Hob has run out already.
Another problem I had instantly with this story is that Hob narrates it… out loud. It’s obvious that he’s talking to someone even though it’s not revealed until later, but it’s completely different from the other stories in the series. Krang wasn’t standing before his men regaling of his murderous exploits nor was Baxter going all James Bond villain while executing his plan.
Hob reveals his biggest hang up… humans. His tale begins with the first human he met, his owner, whose name he’s no longer certain of. One day the boy’s mother throws Hob out on the street when the boy fails to keep up with the litter box. Hob, once a cute and comfortable cat is now at the mercies of the street and fighting for every scrap of food he can find. This leads him to the Turtles on their faithful day of birth and his encounter with Splinter that cost him his eye. He’s shown lying on the ground feeling as if he were dying and then transforming… which felt about the same.
Hob wakes up in his anthropomorphic state and hears Baxter and the scientist from the first issues, talking about “the rat.” Hob stumbles out and tells them that he can find the rat. From there bunches of test are run on Hob and he plays along while building information on Baxter, the Turtles and everything else he can.
The problem with the story begins after this. His rise to power with a gang of thugs, his fall from grace and how he thinks he’s very clever. Frankly his characters potential has been completely botched when they gave him the appearance of having low intelligence and even if he was “just playing along” with Baxter’s plan, his only real plan was to cheat his death. If he had a actual plan he would have staged a coop on Baxter right before he was about to be killed. The comic isn’t bad, but Hob’s character is really uninspired and it’s a shame considering the world that he lives in: Mutant Ninja Turtles, Aliens, scientists, undying Ninja overlords and then Hob… a thug with a chip on his shoulder.
Other than Hob narrating the issue, the writing isn’t bad, but again the characterization of Hob is poor. I really liked his character and now he seems out of place with the rest of the world. He’s not big enough to be a major player and even a temporary alliance it’s doubtful that his storyline will improve.
The art is very good and Hob looks like Cat Nick Fury… like a lot. It’s awesome though. The art really saves the issue, but it only has what the story offers at the same time. I personally enjoyed the baby Turtles scene and seeing Hob’s transformation. Wasn’t too crazy about boxer brief’s Hob, but hey better than tidy whiteys any day.
I’ve been patiently waiting for this issue and I can’t even say that the hype let me down because there was none. Some people may have enjoyed this issue because of Hob’s tragic background being revealed, but that doesn’t make the rest of the story good or forgivable. Maybe Hob will show some potential in the next issue of TMNT, but otherwise I think he’s as good as dead in terms of character development. Retire him next to animated Bebop and Rocksteady because he’s not much better.
Artist: Jason Ciaramella
Artist: Dave Wachter
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Release Date: 6/19/13