Thursday, April 28, 2016

TMNT (IDW) #57



Publication date: April 27, 2016

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams

Summary:

The Turtles, Leatherhead and a quartet of Utroms find the bodies of the Utroms who were slaughtered (the headless Fugitoid).  Among the corpses is Councilor Lorqa.  With Lorqa dead and Colonel Ch’rell still in stasis, Chief Science Adviser Ma’riell takes command of the Utroms.  Technical Specialist Leeshawn, Lieutenant Kleve and Corporal Montuoro are distrustful of the Turtles, but Ma’riell is willing to give them a chance to explain themselves.


Leatherhead tells of how he found the bodies and called for help, while Leonardo gives the lowdown of who the Fugitoid is and how they revived the Utroms from stasis.  The Utroms ask where General Krang is and Leo makes up a hasty story about him being off on a mission in space. Leo then orders Donatello to work on repairing the Fugitoid with Michelangelo as back-up while he, Raphael and Leatherhead hunt down the killers.

Leatherhead leads Leo and Raph down into the tunnels beneath the Technodrome where he claims he smelled a faint fire coming from a cave system.  They’re attacked by a giant Mouser leftover from when Baxter Stockman was in Krang’s employ, but Leatherhead tears it apart.


Up in the lab, Don and Ma’riell succeed in getting the Fugitoid in stable condition, though his consciousness remains comatose.  Don figures that he can get Harold to help him fully revive the Fugitoid once they go home.  With that settled, the other Utroms demand to know why Ma’riell’s brother, Ch’rell, has not yet been revived.

In the tunnels, Leatherhead begins to make an awkward confession that he wasn’t exactly living in peace on the island.  After he was mutated, he found himself hunted by an enemy.  Suddenly, Lieutenant Tragg and Sergeant Granitor pop up with laser guns and demand that the Turtles fork over their breathing devices.  


The Turtles take the two Rock Soldiers down, assuming them to be the murderers.  Tragg claims that he and Granitor hadn’t even made it back to the Technodrome; that they’d been hiding in the caves since the end of the battle and have no clue what the Turtles are talking about.

Leatherhead then smashes Tragg with his tail and informs the Turtles that he has another confession to make.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #56.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #58.

*Councilor Lorqa last appeared in TMNT: Utrom Empire #3.

*Raph mentions the time he and Casey took down a giant Mouser together, which happened back in TMNT (IDW) #9.

*This issue was originally published with 5 variant covers: Regular Cover by Santolouco, Retailer Incentive Cover by Eastman and Pattison, Art Appreciation Month Cover by Cory Smith after Leonardo Da Vinci, Ottawa Comicon Exclusive by Eastman, and Eastman Fan Club Edition by Eastman.


Review:

Alright, evil Leatherhead!  It’s no Cajun swamp trapper, but I’m willing to compromise.

I’ve always liked Leatherhead best as a villain.  It may be because that’s how I was initially introduced to the character, but I think he has more potential for interesting stories as an antagonist than as a hanger-on for the heroes.

It looks like they’re running with a version of Leatherhead’s back story from the Mirage comics; how he was an ally of the Utroms who lived with them until they left Earth.  Here, Waltz and Associates have adapted it to fit their less positive image of the Utroms, with him now having been hunted (possibly imprisoned and experimented on) by them.  It gives him a justification to hate the Utroms, albeit a misguided one, so perhaps calling him “evil” is a little too quick on the draw.  As it is, Leatherhead still slaughtered a bunch of innocent aliens, so it’ll be tough trying to redeem him at this point if IDW ever tries to go that route in the future.

The atmosphere of this issue felt like one of those Old Dark House murder mystery flicks; a dead body, multiple suspects, red herrings, paranoid accusations, dimly lit secret passages, etc.  It’s very much not the direction I was expecting this arc to go; I was thinking it would be a sci-fi sort of tale given the setting and guest characters.  I’m pleasantly surprised.

I dig the variety of unique Utrom characters we’ve been given, too.  Waltz and Benefactors carve into some of the comic’s history to mine a few names, such as Lorqa (who appeared in the Utrom Empire miniseries) and Ma’riell (who appeared in a flashback to Krang’s time as the Iron Demon in Feudal Japan).  The newer faces are all fairly diverse, with the distrustful Kleve, obedient Montuoro and skittish Leeshawn.  Santolouco gives them all distinctive ornamentation so you can distinguish them (bone mohawks or fins), but their expressions help display their personalities even better.  Utroms are usually depicted as being identical to each other, so it’s nice to see them given unique features in both obvious and subtle ways.

Of course, there’s still Ch’rell.  Not sure how long we’ll be waiting for him to get out of his tube, but I hope he fills the void Krang left behind.  Though I’m curious what Waltz and his Amazing Friends will come up with to make Ch’rell’s campaign of conquest different from Krang’s.  IDW’s Krang was already a ruthless overlord, so what will Ch’rell be? 

As for the action, Tragg and Granitor get in a good fight.  I liked the bit where Tragg (or was it Granitor?) grabs Leo’s sword by the blade and swings him around.  He’s a Rock Soldier; what does he care about sharp objects?  It’s a short fight, though, with this issue being mostly atmosphere.  Pattison’s colors are their usual greatness, particularly in the tunnel sequences as everything is lit by Leo’s puny flashlight.

While I wouldn’t say there are too many twists and turns (Leatherhead explaining in detail how he “found” the bodies pretty much telegraphed him as the killer), I’m digging what we’ve got so far.  It’s already shaping up to be one of the better Leatherhead introductory stories.


9 comments:

Adam Winters said...

When Leatherhead kept leading the Turtles into deeper waters, I couldn't help but start to think about the old fable of the Fox and the Gingerbread Man. I mean... would you put your trust in a seven-foot man-gator who tried to lead you down a dark, wet tunnel that would eventually invalidate the only defense (fighting skill and martial arts weapons) you might have over him?

Anonymous said...

Are issues just no longer being letter graded? Those little gags made the whole review.

Mystery Cup of Joe said...

For Anonymous that wanted the issue graded, how about (A- for, Assuming Leatherhead is evil in this one then he needs a Cajun accent with the appropriate hat).

Anyway, I love how they went beyond the common Utrom look and gave them more styles. I have gotten used to Leatherhead being a good guy (ever since the Archie Comics-even though he was good in the original comics) and seeing him turn bad is going to feel weird. Hopefully he is just misunderstood or he had a reason to do that.

I love how Ch'rell is included. Mark could be correct in thinking that his version of Ch'rell might be a good guy. This comic has added some twists and loops to some characters from the past. Hopefully we get more agent Bishop. That guy sure won me over in the 2003 series. I thought we was going to be a rip-off from Men In Black, but he sure proved to be completely different. Especially with those sweet fighting moves against the Turtles, Splinter, Hun, and Karai in that one episode.

BulletTooth504 said...

Guessing Ch'rell's plan of conquest is going to be similar to the 2k3 version. He'll assume a human disguise and become a prominent businessman and philanthropist, while secretly taking over the underworld.

I'm also guessing that Ma'riell will become Donatello's girlfriend. I base this theory on absolutely nothing.

Austin Reed said...

Do you think Usub Gerstalk could show up again in here or the Nick show?

Killer Moth said...

Either that or Ch'rell somehow teams up with Darius Dunn, as we got to have a real-time Shredder/Krang-esque alliance somewhere in this book.

I also approve of BulletTooth's Donatello/Ma'riell ship speculation.

As for evil!Leatherhead, as long as he has proper motivation, I'm fine with him becoming evil. When I was younger, I didn't much care for Fred Wolf Leatherhead, as he was evil for evil's sake, and I regarded him as too shallow. I've since changed my mind after some consideration (plus some extra help via Mark's commentary).

And lastly, I thought Leeshawn being named after Shawn Lee was a tad much. Fortunately, to IDW's credit, they're normally restrained about that kind of self-insertion or self-referencing, at least when compared to the Nicktoon series. Then again, coming up with good alien names can be rather difficult, so what can you do?

Anonymous said...

I love Traag and Granitor. Its probably just nostalgia from the original cartoon and videogames, but seeing them around always makes me happy. They're not exactly in-depth characters or anything (they basically have no personality other then being loyal soldiers to Krang), but that's good enough. Not every character needs to be deep personality wise.

I want toys of them too so badly...

Mark Rodriguez said...

To be fair, Traag and Granitor didn't have much personality other than 'faithful soldiers of Krang' in the old cartoon too. I do wonder if Ch'Rell will be Shredder since the real Shredder is currently dead.

Also I could smell Leatherhead as a killer since the last page of the last issue. It woulda been more of a shocking plot twist had it been anyone other than him.

But yeah, leading them into deeper waters... he was about to kill Raph and Leo even if the Stone Warriors hadn't shown up.

Anonymous said...

My only gripe is that they dropped down to 20 pages of story (from 22), or has that been in place for a while? I think this one just felt too quick.