Monday, June 20, 2016

TMNT (IDW) #59



Publication date: June 15, 2016

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

"Fox Hunt, Part 1"

Summary:

The Turtles return to Foot Clan HQ to find Kitsune, Alopex and several Foot Soldiers attacking Splinter and Jennika.  Kitsune is moments away from planting a knife in Splinter…

Earlier.  Splinter pays a visit to the Shredder’s tomb which is being guarded by Jennika.  Jennika asks why Splinter would honor his enemy with a shrine and Splinter explains that Oroku Saki was once a valued ally before he became the Shredder.  Of more import to Jennika, though, is the fact that he was Master of the Foot Clan and deserves a place of honor regardless of how his reign ended, and all who serve the Foot Clan must honor their past Masters.  Jennika promises to remember that.


Splinter then pays a visit to Kitsune, who is painting a portrait of a dragon, a fox and a phoenix.  While the fox represents herself and the dragon represents Shredder, Splinter finds the point of the phoenix a bit more elusive.  Kitsune suggests that the figure of death and rebirth personifies hope for a better tomorrow.  Splinter cuts to the chase and starts interrogating her about “the game” she and her immortal siblings have been playing.  Kitsune says that all who exist are part of the game, not just the immortals, though many who participate are pieces to be played rather than actual players.  As Splinter leaves, he asks which type of participant the Shredder was.  Indignantly, Kitsune says that Oroku Saki understood the stakes of the game intimately.

In the throne room, Angel and April have a powwow about Casey.  April’s worried about him following their breakup, but Angel insists that sort of stubbornness is par for the course with Casey.  She tells April not to worry too much; in his own weird way, Casey was doing what he thought was best for her and his friends.  She says that Casey will eventually come around.  Splinter steps in and adds his two cents, agreeing that Casey has a noble spirit and will eventually figure things out.

As Angel puts her Nobody gear back on and gets ready to leave, she asks Splinter if he could check in on Alopex.  Apparently, she’s been acting weird all week and they had to cut their patrol short.  April also excuses herself, heading down to the Foot library to research the scroll some more.


Meanwhile, Kitsune finally uses her telepathic powers to seize control of Alopex.  Being used like a puppet, Alopex goes down to Shredder’s tomb and uses Kitsune’s powers to take control of the Foot Elite Guard stationed outside the doors.  They enter and Jennika tries to stop them from collecting Shredder’s body.  She is taken down by Alopex and the Elite Guard carry Shredder’s remains toward the rooftop where a helicopter awaits.

Splinter is accosted in the halls by Kitsune, Alopex and her army of mind-controlled Foot Soldiers.  Splinter defends himself but is overwhelmed by sheer numbers.  Jennika arrives and protects him, but is quickly cornered by Alopex.  Kitsune then grabs Splinter and raises her knife just as the Turtles arrive.


This takes us back to the present.  Splinter tells his sons to protect Jennika just as Kitsune brings her knife down on him.


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #58.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #60.

*This issue was originally published with 5 variant covers: Regular Cover by Wachter, Retailer Incentive Cover by Michael Walsh, Subscription Cover by Kevin Eastman and Tomi Varga, Anastasia Collectibles Exclusive by Alex Kotkin and Ula Mos, and Eastman Fan Club Edition by Eastman.


Review:

I love IDW’s TMNT comic.  I’ve been reading it since day one and I’ve never missed a month.  I’ve cataloged and summarized and reviewed every issue so far.  And if you’ve been reading my reviews since I started, you know that when I begin a paragraph with a whole lot of fawning and dull praise, that usually means I’m about to segue into a critique.  Here I go, lads.  Brace yourselves.

You REALLY need to be patient with this comic.  I love it to death, but it takes its sweet time with most everything.

And seeding future plot points in advance is far from a bad thing.  It makes the story arcs feel more organic as they overlap and develop in tandem rather than awkwardly progressing in conveniently segmented succession.

But oh gee willikers, two years for this Pantheon thing to get going is a little stretched out, don’t you think?

And it’s still not really at the fruition point, yet.  This may just be another bump in the road for the arc and then we’ll have to wait again.  It’s more that something has finally HAPPENED after two years of being told to “get ready for it”.  I mean, when did Kitsune first reveal that she had telepathic control over Alopex?  TMNT #37?  When was that?  August, 2014?  Again, just under two years ago?  Yikes.

You can only tease something for so long before the tension and anticipation begin to wear off.  I mean, this isn’t the first arc the IDW guys had seeded for an extended period.  General Krang was teased in TMNT #1 and the Turtles didn’t throw down with him until TMNT #20, but Krang was built up with tiny rewards along the way.  We saw more of his island, more of his warriors, learned more of his plan, learned more of his past...

The Pantheon has been a lot of characters lurking in the shadows, snickering to themselves about how cool and powerful and mysterious they are and JUST YOU WAIT they’re gonna be so rad you have no idea.  It's been two years of demigods wringing their hands and promising that they're going to make their move while never telling us anything substantial about them.  We haven’t gotten those little rewards along the way over these past 24 months of “progress” like we did with Krang or the Mutanimals or anything like that.  At best, we’ve met new members of the Pantheon here and there, and they’ve been neat, but none of them have told us anything of substance that we didn’t already know.


So we’re at the point in the ongoing where something is FINALLY happening with these characters, but the excitement just isn’t there for me.  I’m pretty patient with this book (I endured the 2 year wait for Bebop and Rocksteady from tease to mutation, likewise the near 2 year wait for Leatherhead), but this was a case of the slow burn technique burning me out.  This is the “Chinese Democracy” of TMNT storylines (just kidding; that honor would probably go to The Forever War miniseries or Volume 4 conclusion).

But to circle back from my criticism to get into praise again, there were moments in this issue that held up nicely regardless of whether my enthusiasm had bled out or not.  One little question that had been nagging in the back of my mind ever since Kitsune’s true nature was revealed has been, “Did she really care for the Shredder or was she just using him all along?”  While we don’t necessarily have a full blown answer to that, I think Wachter got a lot of her attitude across in his artwork.  When she barks back at Splinter’s leading question, Wachter imbues her with this look of indignity and subdued scorn.  Clearly, he struck a nerve by making the subtle accusation that Saki never meant anything to her beyond his usefulness as a pawn. 

I think giving Kitsune that sort of vulnerability, a mortal affection for someone, helps develop her just a little bit.  And boy, does she need it.  She’s been the embodiment of that snickering “I know something you don’t know but I won't tell” sort of characterization, and she could desperately use something more.  Thus far, her entire character has consisted of her motivation; a motivation that’s been deliberately vague so as to stretch out this storyline to the breaking point.

The new character, Jennika, gets something to do.  She hasn’t really impressed me yet, but I’ll give her time.  She was able to resist Kitsune’s mind-controlling influence, which was a nice way of showing that her change is sincere.  Hopefully we won’t get another “character betrayal” arc in the future; at least not from her.  I mean, we're about to go down that road with Alopex again, right?

All in all, yes, I’m interested in seeing where this storyline is going, but I don’t think I’m so excited for it anymore.  The Pantheon when first introduced were mysterious and cool, but it’s been the same ole song and dance for two years.  Good will isn’t a bottomless resource; if you withhold the payoff for too long, people are going to get bored with you.



10 comments:

Adam Winters said...

I was disappointed we didn't get to see Jennika fight Alopex in her assassin's outfit considering how amazing it looks on the cover.

Anonymous said...

Don't forget we have still have only seen one panel of Bishop in TMNT #54...and here we are months later and we haven't see him again, not even for a single panel. I get the feeling Agent Bishop is going to be a slow burn here too.

Technically you can say the same for the Triceratons. We've seen Zog, we've seen how the Utroms "created" them in the prehistoric...but uh...when are we going to get that Triceraton story arc? Will the IDW Turtles travel to space?

Yeah, its a slow burn.

Anonymous said...

How come you stopped grading issues?

Anonymous said...

Look on the bright side, at least its not Volume 4 style pacing where the Turtles and each story arc only get a few pages per issue because there's so much going on and sometimes the Turtles are pushed into the background of their own book and story arcs take forever to progress because there's so many of them...and...and...

...

...

Oh wait.

I feel like I'm getting flashbacks of a decade ago.

Shane Hero said...

I'm in the same boat, not really too excited about the whole Pantheon story. The characters just don't really interest me. Especially since there are so many other characters in this series that I care about a whole lot more.

Seems to me we might be seeing a resurection of the Shredder eventually. The talk of his body being sought after, and the previous appearance of Ch'rell are planting seeds for a story I care a lot more about.

Anonymous said...

I think the mistake that's being made by readers is that they think the 'pantheon' story line is one that's supposed to go on for awhile, then end, and move on to another story. I think the Pantheon are the backbone story line of IDW's TMNT, and that their story will run throughout the course of this entire series, not wrapping up until issue 100. The pantheon story line and 'the game' aren't A story line for this comic, it's THE story line for this comic.

The problem I see with TMNT fans here boils down to one word; impatience, impatience, impatience. We want everything spoon fed to us right now. The pantheon is the background story behind whatever is going on in the IDW book at any given time. Asking it to be over is asking the series to be over.

Anonymous said...

I thought of another one, Darius Dunn. Goddamn, anyone else completely forget Darius Dunn appeared in IDW?

They really made the mistake of introducing way too many characters recently and now don't have time to get back to them all. I can't imagine how long it'd take to focus on Ch'rell and Bishop too, let alone if they ever go back to Null, etc.

Joey Batz said...

"I think the mistake that's being made by readers is that they think the 'pantheon' story line is one that's supposed to go on for awhile, then end, and move on to another story. I think the Pantheon are the backbone story line of IDW's TMNT, and that their story will run throughout the course of this entire series, not wrapping up until issue 100. The pantheon story line and 'the game' aren't A story line for this comic, it's THE story line for this comic."

I have to agree with this. Is two years a little long to wait for the Pantheon story to come to fruition? NO!!!!

The Pantheon is a race of immortal demigods who have been manipulating Earth's history for centuries. Millennia. There is NO bigger story arc, NO greater villains than that. Two years might be a long wait for Darius Dunn, Agent Bishop, Old Hob, Ch'rell, Leatherhead, or anyone else who isn't Shredder or Krang, but not for the Pantheon.

You can throw the Turtles a villain who can one-up the threat posed by Baxter Stockman, or by the Triceratons, or by the Street Phantoms. Hell, you can even one-up the threat posed by the Shredder (4kids threw crazier Shredders at the Turtles every other story arc). But unless the Turtles are going to fight a God/Lucifer team up, you don't get to one-up the immortal demigods. The Pantheon (and the Dragon Warrior) represents the overarching arc of the ENTIRE SERIES, and you can't just have your "payoff" with the Turtles defeating them once and for all and then going on to fight Pizza Face or whoever in the next major arc.

Don't get me wrong; I'm not saying that we should have 300 issues of Kitsune sitting in her room painting. But like I said, the Pantheon must be a background story until the end, poking itself out from time to time to influence the main story before slinking back into the shadows until IDW pulls them out for the final story arc.

I don't know if there are any manga fans here, but I implore you all to check out One Piece for a prime example of slow-burn storytelling done right. Character reveals, plot points, and major battles have taken YEARS and even over a decade to develop, and the story is in every way all the better off for it. It can be agonizing at times, but I would rather wait for the time to be right for Luffy (the main character) to fight Blackbeard (the main villain) than for the story to "hurry up already" and give us that "payoff". The wait is only years or decades. The completed story will be around forever, and that's a LOT longer.

So yeah, Mark, good things come to those who wait. A rushed story is always a bad one.

Mystery Cup of Joe said...

Joey Batz makes a valid point. The slow build up of these major villains shows how important they are. Once Piece does a fantastic job of this and the fights are extremely satisfying in the end. Dragon Ball Z did the same in the 90's and early 2000's with the television show. Yeah it was frustrating to see long drawn out fights or anticipation to battles. However, that made the final outcome that much epic. I am glad that the Turtles are getting epic build ups.


But I also agree with you Mark in that it is frustrating getting tiny, tiny tidbits of information. I mean we're not getting any younger and I really want to see more of Agent Bishop. I feel that he can have an arc of his own without any prior villains.

Overall, great review.

Rob Luther said...

Excellent review, as always, Mark!

I do agree that Kitsune's character and motivations have been a slow burn for quite some time. I do like the fact that she seemed very defensive about the idea of using Saki for her own gain. I wonder, though, if that could possibly be a swerve.

I wonder if her motivation is purely to exact revenge on Splinter, or is it more than that? Say, hypothetically, she did find a way to kill Splinter. Then what would she do? Would she then go after the Turtles? Would she be the leader of the Foot Clan? Or does she not have a plan but to inflict chaos on everyone and everything? I find her character and motivation pretty ambiguous right now, which is a good thing, because now I want to read even more about her!

Thanks for all you do for the TMNT community.

Cheers!

Rob