Sunday, May 3, 2015

TMNT (IDW) #45


Publication date: April 29, 2015

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco and Charles Paul Wilson III (pgs. 1-2, 7, 14, 20-21)
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow

Summary:

Donatello awakens in some sort of spiritual limbo where he is greeted by Tang Shen.


In Harold’s lab, the Fugitoid arrives from Neutrino through the portal only to see Don’s lifeless body.  He runs a scan and finds that Donnie is still clinging to life, but barely.  He tells the other Turtles, Nobody and Alopex to get Donnie’s body to the freezer/server room in order to slow down his metabolism.  He then tells Harold to activate the portal and send him to Burnow Island so he can fetch some equipment.  Splinter, hearing that his son is still alive, begins to meditate.

Splinter’s astral form arrives in limbo, which takes the form of a massive hedge maze.  He begins to navigate the maze, determined to bring his son’s spirit back.

At Foot HQ, Karai, Bebop and Rocksteady survey the damage, trying to find Hun (not sure if he’s dead or a deserter).  Koya and Bludgeon then arrive with the news about the battle at Burnow Island and that the Shredder is no more.  Karai takes charge, saying that she’ll let Kitsune determine whether her grandfather is truly dead or not.  In the meantime, she intends to cull the ranks of the Foot Clan of all outsiders and cowards, hoping to rebuild it even stronger in the Shredder’s absence.

At a grocery store in New York, a trio of Purple Dragons are shaking down the owner.  Casey arrives and beats the snot out of them, sending them away.  The owner, Arune, thanks him and Casey gives him a cricket bat in case they come back.  Arune then warns him that their leader, a big guy, was hanging around, too.  Casey realizes that must be Hun, whom he spots storming into the Second Time Around shop.


In limbo, Donatello is confused as to where he is.  Tang Shen asks her son where he wishes to go.

Back in the lab, the Fugitoid and Harold begin hooking Donnie up to a bunch of weird medical equipment.  After securing a helmet to Don’s head, the Fugitoid then activates the machine.

Outside the freezer, Raph throws a fit, insisting that they should have dealt with the Shredder first like Splinter wanted; if they had, Donnie would be OK.  Michelangelo tells Raph to shut up; that by focusing on Krang, they saved the world and Donnie would be happy with what they accomplished.  Raph storms out and Alopex follows him, hoping to calm him down.  Leonardo says that Raph was right in that the Shredder needs to be dealt with.

At Baxter Stockman’s apartment, the Shredder wakes up and attacks his savior.  Stockman keeps him at bay with his Flyborgs and offers him a deal.  He’ll combine his genius with the Shredder’s wealth and resources, but only as equal partners.  The Shredder agrees to consider the proposition, but on the condition that their first project is to eradicate Splinter and his family.

In limbo, Tang Shen gives Donnie a ponderous speech about light and dark, how the two balance each other out and which direction Donnie wants to go in.  She vanishes as Splinter arrives and the rat guides his son back to Earth.


Donatello awakens in the lab, only to discover to his horror that his mind is in the body of Metalhead.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #44.  The story continues in TMNT Free Comic Book Day 2015.

*Tang Shen last appeared to Leonardo and Splinter in TMNT (IDW) #30.

*This issue was originally published with 5 variant covers: Cover A by Santolouco, Cover B by Eastman and Pattison, Cover RI by Zach Howard, Motor City Comiccon Exclusive by Simon Bisley, and Ottawa Comiccon Exclusive by Adam Gorham and Paris Alleyne.


Review:

Been a crazy month.  Even news outlets picked up the story about Donatello’s “death”.  I guess there wasn’t enough real news going on in the world over the past 30 days.

Of course, if they were any measure of journalists, they’d have read the Free Comic Book Day special that Diamond published half a year ago which revealed, surprise surprise, Donnie ain’t dead.  But I bitched about that enough last review.

Anyway, I hope you speculators sold those armfuls of TMNT #44 you bought up, because it’s too late to jack up the price, now.

But, I mean, yeah.  Did anybody REALLY think Donnie was going to die?  C’mon.  My irritation at the Free Comic Book Day leak was more a matter of principle; IDW should do a better job of maintaining the integrity of its storylines or at least be more judicious about what preview material they share with Diamond half a year ahead of time.

So yeah, Donnie’s gonna be okay.  He’s Metalhead now, but he’ll be okay.  It’s an interesting turn of events, maybe a little reminiscent of the Image TMNT Volume 3 series, where Don cheated death by getting turned into a cyborg.  Waltz and the rest work it into the tapestry of the series nicely; I presume that’s menta-wave helmet technology that put Don’s consciousness into the robot body.  Like everything else in IDW’s TMNT series, the pieces all fit together very snugly.

Tang Shen appearing to Don to give him a pep talk was a nice callback to the Northampton arc and her powwow with Leo and Splinter.  I guess this is what she does, now.  It’s a bit repetitive, but it’s still fascinating to see the Turtles with a mother figure still active in their lives (even though she’s dead).

The speech she gives Donnie is a lot of ponderous pseudo-philosophical babble.  It’s a two-page merry-go-round of a lecture about light and dark, seen and unseen, and the balance between them.  In the end, it’s just a long way of asking whether he wants to live or die.  Hmmm, such options.

Also, did Casey Jones just win a fight?  In an IDW comic!?  Saints be praised!

I’m being snarky, but you’ve probably noticed by now that I’ve taken considerable umbrage with what a pathetic joke IDW Casey has become over the past few years.  From the standpoint of the narrative, I can sort of see it.  He’s been through physical turmoil (Shredder stabbing him) and emotional trauma (Hun being his dad), so he hasn’t been on his A-game for a while.  But man, it’s been a WHILE.  He just keeps getting beaten up and humiliated and he hasn’t come out on top since, like, 2012.  It’s been no fun being a Casey fan.

Admittedly, he only manages to smash three nobodies this issue, but baby steps.  We’ll see how he handles himself against Hun next month; if he continues to be IDW’s doormat or if he finally starts acting like Casey Fucking Jones again.

Also, Foot stuff, but eh.  Just Shredder and Baxter teaming up and Karai possibly undermining her grandfather’s authority.  We’ll see how that plays out.  I’m more interested in seeing Karai finally come into her own as a character than whatever Shredder’s got in store.

Also, Santolouco is back.  I’ve started to see what people are talking about with his Turtles; they are very “cutesy” looking.  Compare to how he drew them back in Secret History of the Foot Clan and they look like they’ve actually gotten younger over the past few years.  It doesn’t bother me as much as it seems to bother a lot of other people, but I do think I’m starting like Cory Smith’s Turtles over Santolouco’s, if only because they don’t look like they’re eleven years-old.

That said, man, this guy can layout a page.  Casey’s comeback rubbed off as such a big deal to me because Santolouco made it look so dynamic and kinetic.  I mean, it’s just Casey whooping three nobody punks, but jeez did it look good.

Charles Paul Wilson III also shows up for the Tang Shen pages.  IDW always dusts him off for sequences involving Feudal Japan or Tang Shen and he’s really become synonymous with that corner of the IDW TMNT universe.  I dunno if he colors his pages himself or if Ronda Pattison does it, but I love the softer touch with all the visible brush lines.

Anyhow, I didn’t see a title anywhere, but I think we’re into the “Vengeance” arc.  Unless IDW changed the name of the storyline leading up to #50.  It’s all building up pretty nicely and while this was sort of the standard “breather” issue between big event arcs, it didn’t come off as being any less tense thanks to all the suspense with Donnie.

Grade: B (as in, “But did Shredder’s hair get twice as long between issues?”)


Saturday, May 2, 2015

FYI, it's Free Comic Book Day


In case you might have forgotten, today's Free Comic Book Day.  There's even a free TMNT comic from IDW available this year:



So hey.  You know.  Free stuff.  If you've got a comic shop in your area, go for it.

I'll be grabbing my copy of the above plus the TMNT stuff that came out on Wednesday today.  I'll review em when I get home.

Have a good FCBD, everybody!


Sunday, April 26, 2015

TMNT III manga adaptation, Chapter 6: Ninja Turtles vs. Samurai King!!!


TMNT Entity and the Optical Internet Translation Gang have teamed up once again for the penultimate chapter of the radically different TMNT III manga adaptation: "Ninja Turtles vs. Samurai King!!!"

The showdown with Lord Norinaga, like everything else in this wild "adaptation", goes very differently than in the film.  And no, the above page selection doesn't ruin it for you.

Hopefully we'll be able to get the final chapter of the adaptation done in the next couple of months and we can put this manga behind us.  It's been pretty fun to translate so far!

As always, special thanks to Adam Winters for providing the raw scans and Cryomancer of the OITG for clean-up and lettering.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

TMNT Movie Prequel #1 - Raphael


Publication date: March, 2007

Story: Steve Murphy
Art: Fernando Pinto
Letters: Erik Swanson

“Disposable Heroes”

Summary:

On a rooftop, Raphael tells Casey how he hasn’t been getting along with his brothers lately; Leo in particular.  They’ve gotten so hung up on big picture threats like Triceratons and Utroms that they’ve stopped noticing the little people who need help the most.


Eighteen months ago.  The Turtles trudge through the sewers, ready to intercept a quartet of heavily armed Triceratons.  Raph hears trouble coming from the surface; an old man being attacked by a gang.  Raph tries to ditch his brothers to help the old man, but Leonardo won’t let him.  They beat up the Triceratons and as soon as they’re finished, Raph sees to the old timer.  He’s been beaten up pretty bad, but dusts himself off and wanders home, mumbling that were he still a young man he’d have mopped the floor with the thugs.

Leo gives Raph an earful for leaving the group without his permission and reminds him that Splinter has told them never to interfere in the world of man.  While they argue, Donatello and Michelangelo go over their plans for Mikey’s “mascot” idea.

Later, Splinter calls them all together and says that he’s at last determined which of them has earned the privilege of going on a yearlong training pilgrimage around the world.  It’s Leo, of course.  Raph storms out and Leo snipes at him some more, telling Raph that Splinter would have chosen him if he’d trained harder and followed orders.


Raph heads over to Harlem, looking for trouble, and comes across a gang mugging a prostitute.  He mops the floor with them, and when he’s done the old man from earlier approaches him (having also heard the woman scream).  He says his name is David Merryweather and he invites Raph back to his home.  David tells him that in his younger days, he also used to be a crimefighter and the pair swap origins and stories.  Raph gets a call from Splinter, telling him to come home so he can see his brother off.  Raph leaves, but moments later he hears a gunshot coming from David’s place. 

He returns to find that the thugs from earlier tracked David down and shot him.  Dying, David makes Raph promise him two things: that he’ll put the punks who shot him behind bars, and that he’ll remove all his crimefighting paraphernalia from his home so no one can ever learn his true identity.  Following David’s instructions, Raph opens a secret doorway and finds a chamber loaded with weapons, armor and a motorcycle.


The present.  Raph takes down the punks who shot David.  Later, he decides to put the gear David gave him to good use and become a vigilante.  As Raph and Casey perch on a rooftop, Raph vows to keep his word.


Turtle Tips:

*If you consider the 2007 CG TMNT film to be in the same continuity as the live action film trilogy, then this story is continued from TMNT III: The Movie.  The story continues in TMNT Movie Prequel #2 – Michelangelo.

*One of the Triceraton blasters will appear in the trophy room in the 2007 TMNT film (but not in the comic adaptation of said film).


Review:

The 2007 TMNT film from Imagi was something that existed.  And that’s about the most anyone can say about it.  TMNT the Movie elicits wistful nostalgia from people, Secret of the Ooze elicits entertainment in a “so bad it’s fun” sort of way, and even TMNT III and the Michael Bay movie elicit feelings of loathing or resentment.  But who the Hell remembers the Imagi flick with anything more than an “Oh yeah.  I forgot about that one”…?

So considering my unbridled apathy for the film, I passed on these prequel comics when they first came out.  I eventually picked up the trade paperback collection when I found it marked down to half price about three years later, but I still couldn’t be bothered to read the comics until just this very minute.  The Imagi era TMNT stuff is so bland and banal, I just can’t work up the enthusiasm to care about this expanded mythology.

Well, I’ll try.

There’s debate as to whether the Imagi TMNT flick is a sequel to the live-action movies.  Nick-nacks from the live-action movies appear in the trophy room, and Shredder is considered dead at the hands of the Turtles, but beyond such vagaries there isn’t a stronger connection.  I consider it a sequel, personally, but a sizeable sample population doesn’t, so whatever.  It’s up to you.

But whether it’s a sequel or not, it does kind of throw you into the deep end, beginning the story in medias res.  These prequel comics attempt to add some background and context to the film, which feels like the second season of a cartoon series that was made without a first season.

Steve Murphy pens this script and does an okay job weaving in the other Turtles’ subplots so these comics have something of a natural progression for the characters (Leo gets chosen to go on his pilgrimage, Mike and Don come up with the "mascot" idea, etc.). 

The pacing is strange, especially those bookending segments with Raphael and a mute Casey Jones perched on a ledge looking at nothing.  There is really no need for Casey to be there and his presence just confuses things, considering Casey doesn’t figure out that Raph is the Nightwatcher until the movie.  Wouldn’t it have made more sense to end on Raph, dressed as the Nightwatcher, perched on that rooftop?  Casey doesn’t even help him take down the punks who killed David, so why was he there?

The Nightwatcher stuff was just one more element of the film that didn’t make a whole lot of sense and Murphy tries his best to justify it.  So Raph took on the costumed identity because Splinter forbade his sons from interfering in the world of man (they use that melodramatic wording, “world of man”, several times)?  Okay.  They can fight aliens in the sewers, but they can’t stop purse-snatchers on the streets.  I guess this Splinter is just a big picture sort of guy.  I suppose this was meant to explain why Raph would keep his vigilante lifestyle a secret from his family and why Leo would have such a problem with it in the movie (again, a part of the movie that made no sense considering how every other incarnation of the Turtles behave as vigilantes).

The origin presented here is a throwback to Nite Owl’s origin from Watchmen, which was a neat little homage to throw in there.  Nite Owl… Nightwatcher… Close enough.  I mean, David sure is quick to trust Raphael and hand over all the tools of the trade to him, but this issue only had so many pages to work with so we’ll just have to let it slide.

Leonardo is a total prick in this comic, but I guess it’s keeping with his character in the movie (where he was a MASSIVE prick).  He sees being sent on a yearlong pilgrimage as a reward, but I’m thinking maybe it was more of a punishment just to get that little shit out of the lair.  This is one of the more obnoxious renditions of Leonardo I’ve ever read, where he has no interest in helping people and is just constantly sniping at Raph at every opportunity and rubbing his victory (the pilgrimage) in his brother’s face.  He’s fucking awful in this comic, actually making Raphael come off as the more well-balanced Turtle for a change.

Fernando Pinto’s art is a bit lopsided; some pages look great while others look rather crude and clumsy.  He breaks model for expressions, which is cool, and there’s a lot of energy to his work.  However, his fight scenes can be extremely chaotic and I found myself having to closely inspect the panels to try and decipher what was going on.

All things considered, this is an okay start to the movie prequel miniseries, even if it can be pretty baffling.  These issues are intended to give more context to the film so it’ll make sense, but with the Triceratons and shit it winds up throwing the audience into the deep end just as much as the movie did.  The characterization is consistent with the film, but all that really serves to accomplish is make me realize how lousy the characterization in the film was to begin with.

Grade: D+ (as in, “David, you’re a wealthy, bitter white man living in the slums of Harlem.  It’s a miracle you lasted as long as you did”.)