Amid the chatter of the latest DC reboot there was another oft-rebootin' franchise of characters that I was itching to talk about...
IDW Publishing's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, and this time the cooler co-creator, Kevin Eastman, is behind the pen! I have a feeling that this is going to be the series hardcore fans were wanting when Laird resurrected the comic book stories a decade ago.
The first hurdle to get over, of course, is this is a full reboot. All of the classic continuity is gone. At least we learned from the 2009 TMNT movie Turtles Forever that all of the different Turtles worlds co-exist in the Turtles multiverse, but that is little consolation for some.
Remember, Peter Laird's 2001 TMNT comic series was not a hard reboot, but a soft reboot. He ignored only the Image series, but all of the original Mirage stories were still in continuity. I typically am not a fan of reboots, but this is one of those times (like with the Batman film franchise), a reboot was needed. The modern Tales series has been awesome, telling untold or lost TMNT adventures, but the mainline TMNT series has been a total downer. And Laird's soft-reboot of ignoring only the Image volume came off as a cop-out. This new IDW series, however, being a full reboot feels fresh, like a new era firing on all cylinders.
My main complaint with the last TMNT volume as a whole (a complaint that I expressed to in the letters column of TMNT issue number 21) is the stories contained zero action. Laird stated in one of the other issues letters column that Eastman was more the action guy in the original volume, and boy does it show in this new run. While there was maybe three panels with fights in Laird's entire 28 issue run, Eastman and company hit us with a battle scene on page one.
The hard reboot enables the creative team to start from the ground floor and build up a full rich modern mythology. Which they are obviously doing by pulling the best points of all the various Turtles incarnations.
Laird was very vocal on his hatred of the goofy 90's cartoon series (you know, the one that made him rich), to the point that he dare not tread anywhere near those zany slapstick tales in fear that he may begin to imitate the silliness. I fear this may have been to his detriment as this new and improved IDW series keeps one of the best parts of that 80's/90's classic cartoon. What did this new series keep from the old show you ask? ... Krang! Yes, the Krang! Not an Utrom, but Krang.. well... maybe he is that living brain from a parallel world, but that is yet to be seen. Thus far, they've given him a sort of Dr. Claw (from Inspector Gadget) sort of feel. They've only shown his hand and mainly we just hear him barking orders at Baxter Stockman. It's interesting to note that Stockman calls him GENERAL Krang. I have to wonder if there will be some sort of combination of Krang with General Tragg (another original animated alumni)?
The original cartoon series is by no means the ideal interpretation of the Turtles, not by a long shot, but it did have a few cool elements. And IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles doesn't appear to shy away from incorporating those into their plot. After all, the old cartoon series, while absolutely nowhere near the ideal representation of the Turtles, is what initially introduced millions of fans to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, fans who will be fans for life. And let us not forget that Nickelodeon’s animated reboot debuts in 2012...
IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Nurtles #1 is a story told in two parts that flips us back and forth between the present and past. Present day Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Splinter are kicking tail and giving us a cryptic comment about Raphael never being forgotten. The part of the story that takes place in the past is an origin that is a bit more believable than toxic ooze falling off the back of a truck into the sewer. In this modern retelling; Splinter and the Turtles are actually lab animals being submitted to experiments and tests.
The story thus far seems to revolve around Stockman taking orders from Krang to acquire some of the mutagen for him. April O'Neil is even closer to the Turtles in this new series as she actually knows the Turtles before their mutation! Not only that, but she is the one who gives them their names! An origin is also given to Splinter's name. It feels like a stretch, but it works (he's part of a psychotropic drug test where the scientists are "splintering" the rat's nature in two).
The end of the issue is set in the present and is another re-telling of the first meeting between Raphael and Casey Jones. This is another key piece of Turtles lore in most versions, but I really love this IDW version because it has elements from the Peter David mini-series (the one based on the 2003 animated series). The explanation PAD gave in that that short lived run was that the reason Casey Jones is a maniacal sociopath is due to him being abused as a child. PAD is brilliant. It makes perfect sense and I'm glad they ran with it again this go round. They successfully merge this idea with the first meeting of Casey and Raph who busts into Casey's house to rescue him from his abusive father.
Besides the zero action factor the 2001 TMNT comic had no story arcs, barely any sense of continuity from issue to issue, killed off Splinter, revealed April's origin to be that she is a sketch drawing come to life and turned Raphael into a vampire (and Donatello being turned into a cyborg was retconned??). In one of the letters columns Peter Laird responded to a fans mail stating that he doesn't plot out stories and makes everything up as he goes along. Ultimately, that didn't prove to be a winning formula. This first issue alone is night and day different from the last volume, and leaps and bounds ahead of it.
Another hurdle the original fans have to face... this series is in color! I know... and I love it...
In : ComIC reVieWs
Tags: tmnt "teenage mutant ninja turtles" idw eastman laird "eastman & laird" nickelodeon mirage image
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