I’m willing to bet that most of the fanboys and fangirls that frequent this site are like me in the way that they grew up with some iteration of the crime fighting foursome: the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles! Smash-cut to now and I bet you’re lost in a world of confusion.
We have a Michael Bay produced movie about to hit theaters that, at the very least, carries mixed feelings. Nickelodeon has a solid cartoon that manages to, more or less, entertain both new and old school enthusiasts like me. But where’s that monthly comic? Sure we all know the original title ended a long time ago but where do we get our page and panel fix? Don’t worry because since 2011 a certain independent company has had a resounding answer. And one of the original creators, Kevin Eastman, is on board for this thrilling ride.
IDW Publishing has seen fit to resurrect these icons in an outstanding monthly series that embraces the roots of the franchise while updating the narrative to suit a modern audience. We have the traditional players plus some new contenders in an all too familiar world that employs the Triceratons, Professor Honeycut and the Utroms in an ever expanding plot. It’s all encased in an attempt to revitalize the brand while incorporating what we know, case and point: Bebop and Rocksteady are in this. And yes, the Technodrome is here too.
In this version Oroku Saki, aka the Shredder, is the leader of the Foot Clan during Japan’s feudal period. He gains power under some shady circumstances that fail to go unnoticed by a specific member, Hamato Yoshi. Backstabbing ensues and our hero goes on the run with his four sons until the inevitable happens and the villain catches up then murders them. Now this is when reincarnation and fate come into play as our protagonists are brought back as a rat and four turtles in a Stockgen lab. Guess what? There’s ooze there. And the rest as they say is Ninja Turtles history.
I had no idea that this creative team would see fit to create a complex ongoing sequence of arcs that not only take place within the confines of a monthly title but also bleed out into other mini-series as well. Through them we’ve gained further knowledge on the positive and negative influences surrounding our brothers and their father, such as Krang. Courtesy of The Secret History of the Foot Clan we see the extent he’s willing to go to in order to preserve his people. But unbeknownst to him his dealings and a witch gave ground to previous grievances originally lost in time. Enter: the Shredder!
Did I mention the awesome additions to the cast such as the mutants: Old Hob and Alopex. These two alone add so many layers to just about any scene with their own slightly corny, but always pertinent, emotional baggage. It’s a source of tension for the Ninja Turtles whenever they cross paths but it takes strong leadership to craft personas you dislike then eventually want to have around. No direct spoilers about them here: go pick up some comics!
I have to tip my hat to Tom Waltz, who’s been on scripting duties for this iteration since the beginning. He’s handled it with care and a level of finesse that befits Leonardo, Michelangelo, Donatello and Raphael. His written word speaks directly to who these four are as well as their key relationships with Splinter, April O’Neil and Casey Jones. For example this scribe built up a mammoth plot that saw the established criminal elements come to war in City Fall while he kept things personal for our mean green fighting machines. To sum up: with the story assist by Kevin Eastman this is the version of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles that we’ve always wanted but never knew we needed.
Beyond the written word the illustrations are where this comic book simply thrives. With talents like Dan Duncan and Andy Kuhn all offering their own renditions this is one title that’s never been left wanting. Add in the beautiful pictures via Ross Campbell and the endlessly engaging work by the current artist, Mateus Santolouco, and there’s no room for complaints. The entire body of content is quirky, sensible and manages to hold on to enough of its established roots to never lose the interest of its already invested audience. In short: no matter what version of the Ninja Turtles got you to be a fan you’ll find something more here that’s downright familiar.
I got my love for pizza because of this outlandish pop culture phenomenon, so much so that to this day when I see any of their films or television shows I start to crave a slice. But as I got older the property, like me, had to eventually mature and change. And after it’s awkward teenage years I’m happy it report that it managed to stick around, especially since we’ve got this awesome iteration of the Heroes in a Half-Shell to enjoy.
Hey IDW! Your TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES Title Totally Rocks.