Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1
Story by Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Art by Dan Duncan
I’ve been meaning to get around to this one since it came out last month, but finally today we’re going to take a look at IDW’s new Ninja Turtles book. A lot of people didn’t follow the Ninja Turtles comic, especially Volume #4, but I did. In fact I actually enjoyed Volume #4 more than most. When I heard IDW was going to do a new TMNT comic with Eastman on board, I was excited. Does this comic deliver?
In some ways, yes, this very much feels like a Turtles comic. That’s a good thing, because getting the “vibe” of the TMNT is as important as anything else. This comic features a series of five different covers for you who like cover variants as well. Kevin Eastman’s is clearly the best (the one pictured above) and that’s the one I’ve chosen.
I don’t want to tear into the art too much, but Eastman’s art is so much better of a fit for the TMNT than Dan Duncan’s. Duncan seems to be able to draw people okay (which is certainly more than I can say for Mirage TMNT artist Jim Lawson) but his Turtles are those strange, exaggerated freakazoids that a lot of people tend to draw the Green Machine as. I don’t much care for it myself, but by this point I’m pretty much used to reading Turtles comics with so-so art.
But enough about that… Things start off familiar enough in this IDW re-telling of the Turtles history, as we open to a showdown with a street gang. It’s much like the old Purple Dragons scene in the original (and subsequent rehashes) of the TMNT comics. However this time we see that this street gang is led by “Old Hob” a one eyed mutant cat. That sort of tips us off that this is not your Daddy’s (or Peter Laird’s) Ninja Turtles.
This is a recurring theme in the IDW book. Things are similar, but different. For the most part I can enjoy some new ideas into the Ninja Turtles books, if they retain that core TMNT feel. Adding new mutants/monsters is okay with me too, so long as it doesn’t end up too muddled with them.
We get a few clues that these Turtles have a different history in the battle with the gang, but as the comic continues to develop, we learn more, alebit not everything, about their new history. The fight scene is good and takes up a large chunk of the comic, so that’s a plus.
And although the Turtles are only given a line or two each in the entire book, there’s enough there to get the general feel of all the Turtles. Including a laugh out loud line from Mike. Of course, there’s a side story about Raphael and naturally he’s being a brooding loner and doing all that typical lame stuff that Raphael does. There’s a larger story at play here, but we don’t get the details, just that Raph is out trying to make it on his own. If only I had a dollar for every TMNT story that revolved around Raphael being a loser.
From there we head off to a flashback where we meet April O’Neil who is an intern for Baxter Stockman. She works with him, but unlike previous stories, she’s not really in the know with what’s going on. Baxter runs an entire corporation that’s working on animal testing. April thinks it’s for making better meat, while in truth it’s to create bio-weapons for the nefarious and equally mysterious “General Krang”.
We also learn in this flashback that this is where the Turtles and Splinter are. In fact, April even names the Turtles! We can only presume that the TMNT will be mutated here as well although we don’t see that process just yet. There was one interesting line about Splinter and how these scientists were doing experiments on him to make him comprehend human ideas as a rat. I suppose to explain later why he can teach the Turtles kung-fu. It’s nice that they tried to tie up that loose end, but I’m not sure I need all the other seemingly random changes in the Turtles history just for the sake of change.
Overall, the comic feels fun and it’s a nice but brief first issue. I’m interested in seeing where it goes, but I can’t help but feel like this is an “alternate world” story. I suspect that will be my main problem with this comic. It’s yet another “new” translation of the Turtles backstory and I’m not sure why we need a new concept, but at least it has the feel of the TMNT for the most part. I’ll be checking out the next couple of issues to see if things get better or worse.