Wednesday, October 25, 2017

TMNT Day 2017 Sampler

Publication date: October 25, 2017

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow and Tom Waltz
Art: Mateus Santolouco, Dan Duncan, Sophie Campbell, Cory Smith, Michael Dialynas, Dave Wachter, Pablo Tunica, Chris Johnson, Kari Randolph
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Assistant Editor: Chase Marotz
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams
Cover: Mateus Santolouco


*A summary of the IDW TMNT comic's major narratives up to the "Trial of Krang" storyline.  Art is recycled and rearranged from existing issues with new narrative captions overlaid.

Turtle Tips:

*This sampler comic was given away free at select comic book shops in the United States during their TMNT Day 2017 promotion.

*IDW has made a .pdf version of the sampler available online HERE.


This is going to be a sort of "non-review" because I don't actually own this thing.  And I don't think a lot of people do, either.  The TMNT Day 2017 promotion wasn't very well... promoted, and so only a handful of comic shops in the US actually knew anything was going on.  I went over to my local shop on my lunch break today and got nothing but blank stares when I asked about it.  They hadn't received any notifications about the event from IDW, nor any solicitations for the sampler books to give away.  My shop owner's exact words after I explained what the fuck TMNT Day 2017 was to him were, "Well, they sure botched that promotion."

But hey, if you got one of these, cool!  And if you're like me and didn't, I don't mean to sound like sour grapes or anything, but it isn't that big a deal.  This wasn't like one of the Free Comic Book Day specials where they mix reprints with new content; this was 100% reprints.  So unless you're an absolute completionist, don't beat yourself up over missing it.

Chances are, this is the first you're even hearing about the thing, anyway.  Happy TMNT Day, everybody!

EDIT: Oh hey, look at that.  IDW put a .pdf of the thing up on their website.  That was courteous of them!  Guess I'd better turn this non-review into a review-review.

At 18 pages, it's almost a full-length comic, but with all the narrative text summarizing the series highlights, it reads twice as long as a full-length comic.  You might get more mileage out of this free sampler than from a $3.99 issue of the main series!

Whoever did the layout isn't credited, but they did a nice job taking all the panels from misc. issues and tessellating them in a coherent fashion.  I wonder if it's the same person who does that for the Free Comic Book Day special recap sections?  Whoever they are, they're good at it.

Okay, so there is ONE part that looks a little cheesy...

It's like one of those title cards for an animated short from the 1930s, where they put the character's head in a circle above their name.  "Leon Schlesinger Presents... A Herman the Hermit Crab Cartoon!"

There are two bonus pages at the end that kinda-sorta push this thing into the 20-page standard comic length.  It's an update of the IDW TMNT trade paperback reading order.  The thing is getting a little cluttered with their current formatting, but if you eschew MY humble attempts to assemble such a resource, then it still comes in pretty handy.

Weirdest thing about it is that it claims that the Batman/TMNT miniseries is part of the series canon.  I... wouldn't put a whole lot of stock in that, personally.  Ignoring the statements from the editor that the miniseries is non-canon, the IDW trade paperback reading order places it after TMNT (IDW) #50... when the Shredder is supposed to be dead.  Yeah.  They likely just wanted to advertise the thing, and who can blame them?  Canon or not, it's still really good.

Anyhow, this thing was "neat" but you've got to be a pretty hardcore collector to go out of your way to get one, assuming your shop didn't participate in TMNT Day (and they probably didn't).  Shit, man, even I'm not that hardcore of a collector and I own a copy of TMNT Meet the Conservation Corps.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

TMNT Universe #15

Publication date: October 18, 2017

Writer: Erik Burnham, Sophie Campbell
Artist: Sophie Campbell
Colorist: Brittany Peer
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams

"Karai's Path, Part 4"



Hundreds of years ago, the gods gave mankind a weapon called the Kira no Ken.  When the gods demanded it back and mankind refused to relinquish it, the gods cursed the weapon and all who would use it.  To keep it safe, the Foot Clan hid it away for centuries.

The present.  Karai uses the Kira no Ken to subjugate Ocho, promising to help her return to her true form so long as she serves loyally.  Ocho accepts the terms and digs Karai, Koya and Bludgeon out of the cave.  Upon surfacing, Bludgeon notices that Koya has taken one of the talismans from the cave, but before the matter can be pressed, he smells blood.  The four find all of Toru's men slaughtered by Toshiro and Natsu.  Natsu tries to make peace with Karai and Karai is willing, but only after she shoots Natsu in the shoulder to even the score.  Karai then tells Natsu that she will be getting vengeance on Toru for his ruse and Natsu agrees to help.

With Natsu's aid, Karai infiltrates Toru's tower.  The mutants deal with all the mob goons, while Karai chases Toru.  He seals himself inside a panic room and taunts her, assuring her that nothing could get in after him.  Karai uses the Kira no Ken to cut through the reinforced metal door.  She tells Toru that she will be seizing all his assets, including his place in Tokyo's criminal underworld.  Toru warns her that using the Kira no Ken will come at the cost of her soul, but Karai just cuts his head off.

A few weeks later, Karai calls a meeting of all the heads of Tokyo's crime families.  She tells them that she will be running things from now on, and when they pull out their guns, she sics her mutants on them.  When the killing is done, Karai tells Toshiro and Natsu that once she is done conquering Tokyo, she will return to New York.


Story and art: Sophie Campbell

"Prey, Part 4"

Koya struggles with the power of the talisman and considers giving up, falling to her death.  However, when the bird spirit within the talisman mocks her as being weak, Koya fights back and slays the spirit, gaining control over the talisman's power.

Now equipped with spectral wings, Koya swoops down and breaks up the fight between Bludgeon and Ocho.  She thanks Ocho for helping her find the will to fight the spirit of the talisman and gain control.  Koya then declares that she's ready for vengeance.

Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Universe #14.  A new storyline begins in TMNT Universe #16.

*The Kira no Ken can be translated as "The Sword of Hate".

*This issue was originally published with 3 variant covers: Cover A by Freddie Williams II, Cover B by Sophie Campbell, and Cover RI by Kaori Matsuo.


"Karai's Path" ended in a way I think we all sort of expected it to, but not in a way that disappoints (too much).  Karai has her groove back and rekindled her motivation to, presumably, inconvenience the Ninja Turtles.  By the looks of things, she's going to be building her own personal criminal empire from the ground up and we can look forward to her bringing that force back into the main series sometime within the next ten years (some of these villain factions move slowly).  If anything, we may end up getting a battle between Karai's faction and Splinter's Foot Clan, and that ought to be something to look forward to.

There is a bit of an out in the narrative that removes much of the agency from Karai's character.  When she parted ways with the TMNT, it was on a hopeful sort of note; maybe she wouldn't be a thorn in their side anymore.  But now she's being mind-controlled by the Kira no Ken, so any evildoing she commits in future stories can be easily brushed aside as "not her fault, it was the sword".  IDW's Ninja Turtles series does seem to have a problem with giving female villains authority over their actions; far too frequently, there's an escape clause that leaves the door open for them to weasel out of accountability.

Sort of like how Alopex was introduced as a killing machine that genuinely enjoyed torturing her victims.  But then it was revealed that Kitsune was mind-controlling her all along; Alopex's real personality, as evidenced in the issues after she was freed from Kitsune, seems to be that of a sweet-natured, giggling ditz.  Or on a less spiritual level, there's Jennika, who again was introduced as a cold-blooded murderer for several issues.  But then we got her origin story, which was an uninspired pity party about how tough her life was so it really isn't HER fault that she kills people.  She's the REAL victim!

I dunno, it's a trend that's always bugged me in fiction.  No one thinks twice about making male villains accountable for their cruel actions without any sort of convenient mind-control bypass or sob story background to relieve them of responsibility.  Female villains, however, seem to constantly get that "it wasn't her fault" Get Out of Accountability Free card.  I guess because writers want to leave the option open for female villains to become love interests for the male protagonists.  It's a shame, but if you give Karai agency over her horrible choices then you can't ship her with Leonardo later on.

Anyway, that tangent aside, this arc did do a lot of character building work for the formerly less interesting Foot Mutants.  We've got a bead on Bludgeon's personality, now, and Koya has come out of all this as a far more interesting foe.  Restoring her flight almost seemed like a copout, since much of her arc has been about coming to terms with her handicap, but the visual of the spectral wings almost makes up for it.  Ocho is kind of starting from ground zero as a character and I do hope they characterize her as more than a snarling monster that yells "KILL!"  I guess we'll have to wait and see.

Natsu also joins Karai's party to give it some extra zing.  Her devotion to honor is a little hokey, and now that I ruminate on it a bit more, seems counterintuitive to her introduction in part 1 of this storyline.  She opened fire on a target in a crowd of people and nearly gunned down an innocent bystander (who happened to be Karai).  Doesn't seem particularly honorable behavior to me.  Natsu's infatuation with "honor" seems more like something that came out of the blue as a convenience to the plot, not something that organically grew from the personality we'd witnessed beforehand.

As for the art, Campbell's layouts are all great and Peer's colors are still top notch.  But man, as nice as everything else in this book looks, it's really hard to appreciate the finer things when the character model for the lead is so monstrously ugly.  I'm sorry, but this Karai looks nothing like the Karai we'd been seeing in any other issue of the IDW TMNT books.  For pity's sake, her nose seems to get bigger with every panel...

I don't know where that design choice came from, but I hope it isn't a keeper.

Overall, I think I'm being a little hard on "Karai's Path", but I do think it stumbled in the home stretch.  There are some great elements introduced in this storyline, along with solid character development and excellent artwork (save for Karai's face), but the cheats in the writing are also rather obvious.  You've got a character who shoots bystanders suddenly become obsessed with honor when it proves convenient to the plot, and you've got that old IDW standby of "mystic mind-control" that will no doubt come in handy down the line when Karai needs to be absolved of all guilt for her evildoing.  I think it's a case where you notice the shortcomings more easily when everything else is so solid.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

TMNT 2017 Summer Shorts festival review at AIPT

As eager as I am to review the third season of the 4Kids TMNT cartoon, I decided to take a detour this month and cover the ill-executed TMNT 2017 Summer Shorts festival. 

You can find my review (with embedded videos of each short) over at AIPT.

The series didn't live up to its promotional promises ("One new short every Sunday, all summer long"...?  Yeah right).  Be that as it may, some of the shorts they released were really, really good.  Let's try to stay upbeat.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Got another variant cover coming, this time for TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #1

My artist buddy, Timothy Lim ("Ninjaink") came up with another IDW TMNT variant cover!  This time, it's for TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #1 and I think the inspiration/reference should be obvious.

You can preorder one now from the Heroes & Fantasies website; the variant is limited to 1000 copies.

Looking forward to the miniseries, which begins November 1.

UPDATE:  Because apparently the inspiration/reference isn't obvious enough...

C'mon, people!  Ghostbusters II was a masterpiece!