Sunday, June 14, 2015

TMNT Movie Prequel #3 - Donatello


Publication date: March, 2007

Story: Bill Moulage
Pencils: Jim Lawson
Inks: Sean Parsons, Jeremy Colwell, Dan Davis, Hilary Barta
Letters: Erik Swanson
Cover: Santiago Bou

“Strangers in the Night”

Summary:

Down in the lair, Donatello has used the money he’s saved as a part time Cowabunga Carl employee to build his latest contraption: The Trans-Species Locator Matrix.  It can identify the brainwaves of all known species in Manhattan, but when those are tuned out, it will only identify unknown species… such as his brothers and the Triceratons (should they ever return).

Splinter is impressed with his son’s invention.  Suddenly, a blip appears that isn’t Mikey (out doing Carl work), Raph (sleeping in the lair) or Leonardo (off on his pilgrimage).  Don and Splinter decide to go investigate.


Their search brings them to the spire of the Empire State Building, where they’re attacked by a giant bat (the Vampire Succubor) spewing a weird alien language.  The bat carries Donatello off, leaving Splinter no recourse but to get help.

Splinter returns to the lair and rousts Mikey (watching a news report about the Nightwatcher).  Unfortunately, Raph is way up in Harlem and unreachable.  Using Donatello’s device, they discern that the bat has taken Donnie to the docks.


When they arrive, they find Donnie and the bat in the rafters of an old warehouse.  Donnie is trying to communicate with the bat, which is speaking its alien language.  Splinter and Mikey jump the gun and attack, scaring the bat away.  Splinter asks if he was able to learn anything from the bat and Donnie suggests that the bat was trying to find its way home.  The bat, meanwhile, passes the Nightwatcher and then circles the skyscraper penthouse of Max Winters, who looks upon it and smiles.


Upon returning to the lair, Donnie checks his device and finds 13 unknown species on the radar.  He tries to amplify the machine, but his adjustments cause it to explode.  Mikey wonders if they’ll ever know why these weird monsters have suddenly begun invading Manhattan.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Movie Prequel #2 – Michelangelo.  The story continues in TMNT Movie Prequel #4 – April.

*The Turtles last fought the Triceratons in TMNT Movie Prequel #1 – Raphael.

*The giant bat (identified in the movie production materials as “the Vampire Succubor”) will return in TMNT: Official Movie Adaptation.

*This issue was reprinted in TMNT Comic #6 and TMNT Comic #7 with new colors by Hi Fi Design.


Review:

This was the first fairly palatable issue of the Movie Prequel miniseries, which has been pretty bad so far.  I’m even more surprised that it was decent, considering it was written by the same guy who did Raphael: Bad Moon Rising.  That’s not to say this adventure is great or even good or anything. It’s rather hohum and dry; Donnie tracks a monster, the monster kidnaps Donnie, Splinter and Mikey save him, The End.

But sometimes a dull but coherent story is better than a string of unreadable nonsense.  So it’s the lesser of six evils.

This issue does a bit more work setting up the, quite frankly, random bullshit from the feature film.  I mean, the 13 monsters.  I don’t want to get into a review of the movie yet, but man all that shit with the statue warrior generals and the 13 monsters and the weird dimensional cyclone and what the fuck.  Just way too much for a story that also wanted to be about getting the gang back together, finding individual jobs/identities for the Turtles, mending old family rivalries and setting up a sequel with the Shredder.  That movie had so much content it had to shortchange everybody.

But yeah, we get our first glimpse of the monsters and Max Winters which actually sets up the BIG story for the movie, while most of these other issues focus on the smaller character stuff.  Not that the smaller character stuff shouldn’t be explored, but the shit with Max  and the monsters really needed more lead time and this miniseries could’ve done a better job establishing it (we'll get a little more in later issues, but mostly in the background).  Remember how the movie opened with a prologue about the origin of the Turtles before going immediately off the rails into this expository drivel about a thousand year-old Yaotl curse and conquering armies and monsters and shit?  That was awful.

Now, while the story in this issue is bland but digestible, the art is another matter altogether.  There are FOUR inkers on this issue and holy cow, does it ever show.  None of them can seem to agree on how to ink Lawson’s pencils to the point where sometimes you can’t even tell that Lawson drew the thing.  Some of the inkers attempt shading/toning, while others prefer stark black and white.  Some inkers smooth Lawson’s edges and round his corners, while others try to preserve the angular look of his original work.  And some inkers are just absolutely fucking TERRIBLE:


It is positively absurd how bad this issue looks.  If you’re going to pass it off to four different inkers to save time, then at least establish some sort of cooperative mandate or a style guide or SOMETHING.  Did they do their pages separately at the same time and then just turn them in on the due date, blindly hoping their aesthetic choices would tessellate?

That’s no way to run a railroad.


Grade: C- (as in “Come on, Mirage.  Weren’t these comics intended to make people WANT to see the movie?”)

1 comment:

Adam Winters said...

I seem to remember this comic's release got delayed by a week or two. I ended up reading this one after I'd already seen the movie. I can't say these comics did a great job of getting folks excited to see the film, but it's nice that Mirage made the effort, I guess. At the time, they were the only TMNT comics I was interested in buying regularly. It's very possible, these actually got me into new TMNT comic collecting again.