Originally published in: TMNT Magazine (Panini) #1
Publication date: May 2 - May 29, 2013
Story: Ed Caruana
Script: John-Paul Bove
Pencils: Ryan J. Neal
Colours: Jason Cardy
Letters: Alex Foot
How It All Began: While leaving a pet shop with four baby turtles, exiled ninja master Hamato Yoshi accidentally stumbled upon a pair of strange men trading a canister of ooze. There was a fight and in the confusion, the canister broke, spilling its contents onto Yoshi and his turtles. Yoshi was mutated into a rat while his turtles were mutated into anthropomorphs. He fled to the sewers with his new sons and trained them in the art of ninjutsu. And so…
The Turtles are on their way home with a large stack of pies from Mancini’s Pizza. Donatello hurries his brothers along, stating that they only have nine minutes before the pizzas fall below “optimum temperature”.
Unfortunately, their trip home is sidetracked when Michelangelo elects to help a stranded kitty down from a window ledge. The Turtles are about to continue on their way when they hear a woman scream. They round the corner and find a little old lady being robbed by muggers. The Turtles scare the muggers off and Leonardo returns the old lady’s purse (which she promptly beats him over the head with for being a “giant lizard”).
Time is running out as the pizzas are rapidly cooling and the Turtles are about to slide down the manhole when they hear an explosion. This time it’s the Purple Dragons, setting fire to an electronics store. The Turtles beat the snot out of the Dragons (pawning off their load of pizza boxes onto Mikey with each attack). Eventually they take them all down and stash them in a dumpster until the police arrive.
The Turtles think they’re home free, but just as Mikey starts crawling down the manhole, a truck comes zooming down the street. Mikey ducks in time to save his head, but not the pizzas, which the truck runs over.
Down in the sewers, the Turtles relate the events to Splinter. Splinter praises them for putting the needs of others before their own desires. However, he suggests that in the future, they seek wisdom from an ancient scroll. Leo unfurls the “ancient scroll” which turns out to be a delivery menu from Mancini’s Pizza.
*The next story in publication sequence is “Chasing Shadows”.
*Page 11, the truck that destroys the pizzas is modeled after Optimus Prime from the live action Transformers films. Panini used to publish Transformers comics back in the 2000s, but has since lost the license to Titan.
For the record, I’d like to thank “Enscripture” of the Technodrome Forums for hooking me up with these comics. I’m American, if you haven’t guessed, so the Panini magazines aren’t so easy to come by for me.
In case anyone is confused, these Nick TMNT comics published in Europe by Panini are NOT the same as the Nick TMNT comics published in America by IDW. The TMNT New Animated Adventures series is an entirely different book. From what I understand, IDW was able to get a license to publish their original TMNT comics in Europe (through… Titan, maybe? I’m not sure). However, Panini Magazines had already secured a license to publish TMNT comics based on the Nickelodeon animated series in European markets some months before. As a result, IDW cannot publish TMNT New Animated Adventures in European territories.
At least, that’s how it is at the moment. IDW and Panini may eventually work things out down the line. I’d kind of like to see some synergy between the Panini and IDW Nick TMNT comics and maybe both titles could share their content back and forth. Hey, it’s not unheard of. The Marvel UK Real Ghostbusters comic used to reprint issues from the American Real Ghostbusters comic published by NOW (usually broken up across issues, since UK comic content is slimmer). And likewise, when NOW was running late, they’d reprint strips from the Marvel UK Real Ghostbusters comic as filler (usually 3 strips per issue, since American comics are longer).
The reason I’d like to see cooperation between the two publishers is because I think BOTH of their Nick TMNT comics are pretty good and I wouldn’t want either side of the Atlantic to be deprived of any of them.
These Panini comics run at different lengths depending on the issue. Sometimes there are two short strips and sometimes there’s a double-length comic. The variety is nice and I appreciate the freedom the writers have to only say as much as they want to rather than feel obligated to pad out a full 22 pages.
Both the Panini and IDW comics suffer from the same unavoidable setback of having to take place “between” episodes of the currently running animated series. As such, the adventures have to be… not “small time”, but they certainly can’t be definitive. If the Turtles fight a villain from the show, he or she has to be left in pretty much the same position as where they found them so as not to disrupt the continuity of the cartoon. Likewise, there isn’t really any room for story arcs in these comics, because they’re tiptoeing around cartoon storylines which the writers don’t even know the specifics of.
In a way, I actually kind of like this limitation placed on the Panini and IDW Nick TMNT comics. They’re solid, fun, done-in-one stories and in this day and age, there just aren’t enough comics like that. In an industry polluted by Bendis-style decompression, it’s nice to have an episodic book every now and again.
Anyhow, despite my appreciation for these comics, this introductory chapter is a little unassuming. Not a bad tale, though that droll comedy relief ending felt like it was missing a trumpet going “Mwa Mwa Mwa Mwaaaaaaaa”. This is the first issue (and only the first story in the first issue) and writers Caruana and Bove are just getting their feet wet.
One thing Panini seems to be getting right that IDW isn’t: Leonardo. Nick’s Leo is the most entertaining incarnation of the character in franchise history and he’s great. IDW’s Leo hasn’t really had any of his goofy “Space Heroes” wannabe outbursts yet, while Panini’s Leo has his moment in this first issue (giving a corny speech as he returns the purse to the old lady, only to get thwacked). It’s a little thing, I know, but now that we’ve finally got a Leonardo with a freakin’ personality, it’d be nice if the IDW writers would be kind enough to use it. Panini’s writers establish their understanding of the cast concisely and convincingly in just this 6-page short, which is impressive and satisfying.
And I’m really digging Neal’s pencils and Cardy’s colo(u)rs. The work from Brizuela and Breckel over at IDW has been nice, but these two have a way of going off-model, but not too off-model. I like Brizuela, make no mistake, but his adherence to the Nick cartoon designs can be a little problematic (his April looks like a plastic doll, for instance). Neal’s Turtles break model for emphasis and don’t feel quite so static in expression or pose. His layouts can be a little erratic, but there’s a whole lot of energy to his work that’s very cool. Cardy’s colors seem much brighter than Breckel’s and the characters really pop.
Anyhow, these comics were a pleasant surprise. I’m about 6 issues behind on em, so I’ll be having some fun catching up. Hopefully, if all the rights and distribution issues between IDW and Panini are resolved, we can have a transatlantic Nickelodeon TMNT comic exchange. They’re both good stuff.
Grade: B (as in, “But because the comic cannot risk contradicting the cartoon, Mike missed an obvious opportunity to adopt Klunk”)