Saturday, March 21, 2015

TMNT (IDW) #44


Publication date: March 18, 2015

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow

“Attack on Technodrome, Part Four”

Summary:

On Burnow Island, the Turtles smash their way through the hordes of Flyborgs and mini-Mousers to get to General Krang (who is lost in thought, reminiscing about his father).  Stockman orders his Flyborgs to fly him to safety and retreats.


At Harold’s lab, Bebop and Rocksteady have begun trashing Donatello.  Harold tries to delay the Foot mutants with Metalhead and give Donnie a chance to escape, but they make short work of the robot.  They beat Donnie to a pulp and while Bebop holds him down, Rocksteady smashes his shell to pieces with his sledgehammer.  They then receive a call from Karai to return to Foot HQ to deal with the Mutanimal attack and the two leave.


Back at Burnow Island, the Turtles keep Krang busy while the Fugitoid tries to reroute the power from the Technodrome.  It has already begun terraforming Burnow Island and if it reaches maximum power it will begin eliminating all life on Earth.

At Foot HQ, Karai and her Foot Soldiers prepare to strike down Splinter.  Nobody and Alopex arrive, having been told by Raph to keep an eye on Splinter since he didn’t trust Hob, and they dispatch the Foot Soldiers.  Splinter tells Karai that his feud was always with Oroku Saki and never the Foot Clan.  As a former member of the Foot, he believes in what the Clan represents, but despises what Saki turned it into.  However, he says he doesn’t see that same sort of evil within Karai and hopes that she can restore the Clan’s honor.  Conflicted, Karai chooses to drop a smoke bomb and retreat.  Nobody then receives a call from Harold, telling her to get back to the lab as fast as possible.

On the beaches of Burnow Island, the Shredder has been beaten into the ground by Tragg and Granitor.  Bludgeon and Koya try to keep on the offensive, but the Technodrome’s terraforming begins to asphyxiate everyone on the beach; Foot Soldiers as well as Krang’s army.  Thinking their master dead, Bludgeon and Koya retreat.  Likewise, Tragg and Granitor escape back to the Technodrome, which has maintained an Earth atmosphere for the human technicians working within it.  Everyone else dies.


A lone Flyborg then buzzes onto the beach, snatches up the battered body of the Shredder and carries it to a boat.  Shredder weakly asks who is rescuing him and Stockman tells him it’s his “new partner” (assuming Krang is defeated).

Back inside the Technodrome command center, the Turtles have succeeded in disabling Krang’s robot body and seriously injure the Utrom within.  The Fugitoid successfully reroutes the power and shuts down the Technodrome.  The Turtles want to kill Krang, but the Fugitoid tells them they don’t have the time; as the terraformed atmosphere outside will soon leak into the Technodrome and asphyxiate them.  He promises to deal with Krang and teleports them back to Harold’s lab.


Krang curses the Fugitoid for dooming his people, but the Fugitoid disagrees.  With the atmosphere of Burnow Island now matching Utrominon’s, the Utroms can live in peace on the island forever.  However, Krang will have to pay for the lives of those he’s murdered; both the humans killed on Burnow Island and the countless scores of others from across the universe.  The Fugitoid then teleports himself and Krang to Neutrino Command in Dimension X, where Zak and an army of Neutrinos await to welcome him and take Krang into custody.


Back at Harold’s lab, the Turtles return home victorious.  Their celebration is cut short when Splinter, Nobody, Alopex and Harold show them the tragic sight of Donatello in a pool of blood, giving no signs of life.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #43.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #45.

*The Neutrinos last appeared in TMNT (IDW) #20.

*This issue was originally published with 4 variant covers: Cover A by Smith and Pattison, Cover B by Eastman and Pattison, Cover RI by Tadd Galusha, and Cover RE by Tommy Patterson and Nicholas Wentland.


Review:

I am going to gush about this issue.  But there’s something serious, a problem with IDW, that I want to discuss, too.  And it has nothing to do with their storytelling.  I couldn’t decide if I should address it at the start of this review or the end.  After writing a big long opening shpeal, I deleted it and decided to save it for the end, because I don’t want to start off my thoughts on such an awesome comic with rampaging negativity.

So with that out of the way…

General Krang has been a major driving force behind this comic’s conflicts since the first issue.  And now he’s out of the picture.  It feels like a real turning point; after 44 issues of Krang as one of the focal antagonists, he’s gone and we can move onto something else.  I’ll miss him, but I don’t feel like I was shortchanged on his arc, either.  His storyline went out with a BANG and I’m left wanting for nothing.

Okay, maybe there was a bit of villain decay regarding Krang's fight with the Turtles.  All four Turtles had to fight tooth and nail in TMNT #20 just to get him into a draw, but here only three of them manage to take him down while also contending with a horde of Flyborgs and Mousers.  Perhaps Krang was sapped after battling the Shredder, or maybe he was just too distracted because of the Technodrome.  Or maybe the Turtles had improved their skills enough over the past twenty-four issues that Krang wasn’t as much of a challenge as he was the first time they fought him.

Or maybe since we’d already gotten a long drag-out brawl between the Turtles and Krang, Waltz and the rest didn’t want to retread that ground for our benefit.  All are acceptable reasons and I was satisfied with the fight we got (and the image of the humbled Krang’s crumbled body being dragged before the Neutrinos to face justice).

Waltz, Eastman and Curnow also set the stage for what’s supposed to be the big “leading up to issue #50” arc.  I don’t want to call it a “finale” since the book isn’t getting cancelled (it might get relaunched with a new #1, though).  Rather, with Krang eliminated, the upcoming “Vengeance” arc is supposed to be the epic confrontation with the Shredder and the Foot Clan that the book has also been building toward since issue #1.  Curnow and Waltz have said that they originally plotted the series out to fifty issues, so while #50 isn’t the “end”, it’s the culmination of the editorial team’s initial vision.  While it does sort of feel like the book is knocking down its pins one at a time to get us to something of a fresh starting point, it’s also hugely satisfying to get something amounting to closure in this title, which has been all about slow-burn build-up since day one.

Then there’s Donnie.  This is what I alluded to at the start of my review.  As a storytelling beat, it fit perfectly with the rock-and-hard-place Donnie had been putting himself in over the past issues.  It was appropriate.  But was it shocking?  That’s where I have to get something off my chest... 

IDW released preview pages of their Free Comic Book Day special in January.  Free Comic Book Day is in May.  MAY.  The preview completely spoiled Donnie’s fate from this issue.  They utterly derailed their own storytelling momentum just to promote a free comic that wouldn’t be coming out for another five months.

Thanks to IDW’s zeal to pimp the vital plot points of their comics half a year in advance, I had this hugely important moment completely wrecked for me.  And I try to avoid any thread or news site post that says “Preview” in it.  But all it takes is one person offhandedly mentioning it in a thread about a different topic, or someone posting a scan of the preview pages and that’s it.  Five months is a long time to try and hide from spoilers.  Sooner or later, someone is going to accidentally wreck it for you.  But we wouldn’t have to worry about that if IDW would just stop sabotaging their dramatic milestones with previews they release half a year early (they did this same shit with Dark Leo).

It’s like, imagine you’re sitting in a theater to see a movie you’re really, really excited about.  Then, they play the trailer for the movie’s sequel coming out next year and that trailer completely ruins the end of the movie you’re about to see.  What the FUCK?  Why would they DO that?  That would be awful!  But that’s essentially what IDW does.  While you’re waiting to pick up the conclusion to their current story arc, they’re already showing you pages of issues 5 months from now that completely ruin the end of the issue you’re about to buy.

So yeah, not only did IDW tell me this was going to happen to Donnie back in January, they told me everything that would happen next through May.  So as a result, I couldn’t appreciate any of the “oomph” that big cliffhanger splash page was supposed to have.

Sigh.

I bet it would have been awesome, though.


Grade: A (as in, “And I guess all the people complaining that IDW’s Bebop and Rocksteady were too comedic can breathe a satisfied sigh of relief.  They went full ‘Death in the Family’ in this issue”.)


EDIT:

As clarified by editor Bobby Curnow, although IDW did provide the FCBD pages to Diamond, it was under the stipulation that they NOT spoil the ending of this issue.  Diamond went ahead and did it anyway.  So Diamond is to blame, I guess.


14 comments:

Anonymous said...

Even without that spoiler, did you really believe Donatello would die? My only assumption was they were going to go the Image route and have Don grow a cyborg shell or something. IDW hasn't adapted any Image material yet so Don getting his shell smashed again brought back memories of Image TMNT #1. Who knows.

Either way its not a big deal. Remember when Shredder impaled Casey and called it a mortal wound? Did anyone seriously think Casey was going to die? Of course not, he rested up in the hospital and is as good as new.

Heck remember even before that when Baxter shot Old Hob point-blank with a handgun and left him for dead? And then Old Hob comes back a few issues later.

I can understand not like being spoiled, but after IDW ALREADY brought back Old Hob and Casey after they were "near death" I don't see why Donatello recovering in some form (given he's a main character) is all that spoiler-y.

Anonymous said...

Not much of a spoiler. Did you really think they were going to kill Don?

Arun said...

I seem to recall Curnow saying that the FCBD leak was actually Diamond's fault and they posted the wrong pages (though one can blame IDW for giving them a mess of pages in the first place). That said, I hadn't seen the pages prior to reading this issue but I never believed Nickelodeon would allow this sort of storyline to pass unless there was a plan to keep Donnie alive. I don't think that takes away from the "holy shit" factor of this issue (and I had a string of expletives for that ending!).

What I'M really annoyed about is how the news outlets are reporting it, with a sense of panic that I just can't stand. Even my dad heard about it and had to ask me if it was true, which was kind of bizarre for me.

Great issue either way, but it's a shame the leak spoiled such a shocking ending for some.

Anonymous said...

Appreciate the thoughtful review as always, Spengler.

As for FCBD, we told Diamond which pages were spoiler free in as concise and clear of a manner as possible. We reiterated how important it was to show the correct pages.

They still put the wrong pages up. We told them it was the wrong pages within an hour of it going up. It took them six hours to take it down and replace it with the correct pages. (which you can currently see if you go to Diamond's FCBD site) That was enough time for people to grab screencaps of the spoilery pages, and as soon as #44 hit, they went to the winds.

So in summation— please know that any frustration you feel about the situation is eclipsed times 100 by what I feel. We've been building to this stuff for years, and to see it spoiled so easily just because people can't read an email is infuriating!

Anyway, there's lots of twists to come regardless, so know that not everything was spoiled.

-Bobby Curnow

Mark Pellegrini said...

@Bobby

Hey, thanks for the clarification. I'll preserve my completely wrong-headed assertion in amber so everyone can laugh at me ten years from now.

But let it be known that my irritation regarding the FCBD spoilers stems from the fact that I really do love this book. So much. And I am sorry I pointed the finger at you guys and not Diamond.

Keep up the awesome comics and I'll keep overreacting. If it brings out that kind of passion then it must be doing something right!

Czar of the Northwest said...

Just to be an uber-nerd (and because I've heard other people say it too), I'll mention the previous Krang fight in #20 didn't involve all four turtles either. It was just Leo and Mikey; Raph and Don only show up at the end and don't directly fight Krang (Raph was on the front lines, Don was working with Fugitoid on the END missile). When the other two turtles show up, Krang pulls his gun and runs off with Fugitoid. So here in #44 we're seeing a 3-on-1 fight compared to #20's 2-on-1 fight.

Chet said...

I missed the whole spoiler thing, to be honest, and I was baffled by Rocksteady and Bebop's (attempted) murder on Donatello. Not so much the Turtle (possibly) dying, which is as shocking as one would expect, but the way the mutants did it, and carelessly joking about it afterwards.

To me, that was the real shocker. These were kid-friendly co-stars in the 1987 TV show, not someone as dark and brutal as Bane. These guys can barely tie their own shoelaces and can even be viewed somewhat sympathetic in this very comic... And then they murder Donnie, the brains of the operation.

And Donatello dying in Splinter's arms, with Mikey crying... Man, that's just saddening. Breaks yer heart.

Mark Rodriguez said...

To be fair though Chet, that's the kind of brutal beatdown Bebop and Rocksteady always threatened the turtles with in the old cartoon but never got to do due to their own incompetance, the good guys always winning, and of course, it being a kids show. I mean, they both would have shoot the turtles into swiss cheese a million times over if those laser blasters were actually dangerous.

BulletTooth504 said...

I figured Alopex and Nobody would be stationed nearby to give Donatello backup. Way to drop the ball, ladies.

The only positive thing I can think of is: What do they know about telling the life signs of a mutant turtle? Maybe he's just in a coma. If anybody could screw up a simple murder, it'd be Bebop and Rocksteady. Unless the series actually is ending with issue 50. In which case, Donnie probably is dead.

Da Vinci said...

Best Bebop and Rocksteady moment actually wasin the first season of the original cartoon in one of their first fights with the turtles out in the open streets of NY. These two dudes are turtlehandling our four small ninjas. Throwing cars at them, shooting lasers with machinegun soundeffects, scary, unstoppable!
And then Leo cuts a street light, it falls on Rock's head and he makes one of the most funny cartoon faces in history of animation and the whole scene becomes funny.
Since then they hardly kept the balance right. The Archie comics actually did this the best. Giving them a story where they even develop.
So as surprising and "shocking" it is that B & R "kill" one Turtle, there was no room for a good joke left.
And so it feels like a wasted opportunity. IDW could have used their bland and stupid shark or eagle mutants for this aswell. Currently they are just two brutes and are not really smart. Like nearly every strong and oversized character in this IDW universe.
Sadly sucks imo.

Chris KAOS Jimerson said...

Well... time to fill him full of crazy nanobots and make him into a cyborg! =D

Killer Moth said...

What Mark said about Bebop and Rocksteady, I blame all the 80's censorship, myself.

Since I haven't been online at all in the past year until last month, I missed all the spoiler hoopla... until Comicvine did it for me last week, and I wasn't looking for it, either. And, like Mark alluded, my case was my friend doing it, but I don't blame her, as she was only doing me a good turn. But I was still shocked.

Mainly, if you think about it, Don is usually spared from the brutal beatdown one Turtle seems to get in each version -- save for the Fred Wolf series for obvious reasons -- Leo got it most between Mirage, 4Kids and the Nicktoon, Raph in the first live-action film and Mike in Archie's Dreamland arc. Until now. Hence the shock.

And we can blame Diamond forever for this. Sighs.

Chet said...

@Mark Rodriguez,

You obviously have a good point there. Yet the whole deal with Rocksteady and Bebop was, albeit being menacing and brute, mindless forces, they were never meant to succeed. At least, not to this degree. But now they actually do succeed, and pretend it's just like swatting a fly, it makes them entirely different characters.

On the other hand, Rocksteady and Bebop in the Nick toon are also a lot more competent and quite inteligent, while especially Rocksteady also relies on using his immense strength.

Mike B. said...

So I got the first couple trades of the IDW series as a Christmas gift a few years ago. I grabbed the heroes microseries later and kind of fell off the train without ever catching up. Then I heard about this issue a knew it was time to get back on that proverbial train, so I went into this arc knowing the conclusion. For me, dodging spoilers was about not reading Mark's reviews until I had read the in-between issues first-- a tall order (too tall at times.)

So this single issue, #44, and all the impact it had dragged me back into the IDW continuity. I was picking things back up at the "Sins of the Fathers" arc, and in doing that while knowing the conclusion I was able to really appreciate the grand vision the IDW staff has had in leading up to this one brutal moment between Donatello and Rocksteady and Bebop.

There is foreshadowing all over the place. Back at the conclusion "City Fall" in issue 28, Bebop mentions that the turtles have hard candy shells and Rocksteady says they should crack them open to see what is inside. Splinter and Karai's conversation about doom in the issue #43 (remember that R&B were her creations. This may be important later) also add to the foreshadowing. When Rocksteady and Bebop are brought to the Turtles/Mutanimals at the end of issue #39 they refer to the Turtles as green pinatas, then spend the fight that spans the next issue talking about how they are going to squish or crush the turtles. Interestingly, the only turtle not on hand for the fight is Donatello because he is off concocting the plan for "Attack on Technodrome." The language and plot threads used are all alluding to and bringing the reader to this single dramatic moment.

Finally, Splinter is essentially proven right in the debate between him and Donatello in "Monsters, Misfits, and Madmen" and "New Mutant Order." Shredder does seemingly kill one of Splinter's family, validating Splinter's fears and claims that Shredder is indeed the more immediate threat than Krang and will stop at nothing to kill the Hamato family. Shredder was essentially dead on the beaches of Burnow Island and what seemed to be his dying words were "kill the turtle." Even in his last moments, his thoughts are on killing the protagonists (Kitsune? Out of sight, out of mind.)

So it's been a wonderful ride getting to this point. Now I'm patiently waiting for the next trades (September 1 for Mutanimals TB? Gaaaaah!) because based on what people claim the story reads better through the trades. As I sit here and write this though, I think I may start picking up the floppies because I will want a front row seat for issue #50.

I guess the point of all this, these writers, like, had a plan and stuff. Even if some of the beats and arcs weren't to my liking (This is not going to be the incarnation of North Hampton everyone remembers, sheesh) this book has been absolutely top notch. Thanks, Mr. Pellegrini, for the great companion site to the readings. Great stuff all around.