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Finally, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are back – and they’re better than ever! The story by Kevin Eastman (co-creator of TMNT) and Tom Waltz is great. It’s perfect for new fans, with a lot of fan service for older fans, and the art is solid. There are only minor complaints, but this comic is a real gem with tons of callbacks to satisfy any TMNT fan.
Right away we’re thrown into the fray with master Splinter and three turtles – Leonardo, Donatello and Michelangelo. After a quick victory we learn more about their past and present, quickly finding out that Raphael has left the group and is now wandering the streets alone.
The story is as close to perfect as possible, bringing new and old elements to the TMNT along with some mystery. Why Raph is no longer part of the group is not explained, but for longtime fans you can already guess it has something to do with his loner and hot-headed nature. Two major villains also appear, adding to the tons of fan service: Baxter Stockman, sporting a similar look and place in the TMNT as he had in the TMNT cartoon, and Krang, who is another mystery. Krang is presented exactly like Claw from Inspector Gadget with his entire body hidden behind a chair (all he needs is the cat). I look forward to his reveal in the future. Two other major characters appear, both also worked into the plot in interesting and seamless ways, but you’ll have to read this issue to find out who!
The greatest moments in this issue are the little ones, like an explanation of how the turtles and Splinter got their names and why those particular ones were chosen. This is all done in a very clever way that adds to the overall story, the icing on the TMNT pizza. It gives us a look at the turtles before they were mutated, and a look at the present. It balances the two time periods seamlessly with each other.
The only complaint about the story is the opening. The narration from Splinter is worthless, adding nothing to the plot. Being a wise warrior I would expect something deeply philosophical from Splinter, but I am instead immediately treated to “And so it begins,” and “The sky rumbled threateningly.” Both these lines are uninspiring and basic, which started off this great comic on a sour note. When the narration was over, that was when the story really started to pick up and deliver everything great about TMNT in one issue. The opening was also slightly confusing, featuring a character I’ve never heard of, Hob, who has a history with Splinter that is not explained and will hopefully make more sense in the future.
The art done by Dan Duncan is simple but refreshingly still manages to fit the tone of the story and does not appear rushed or sloppy. This art, like the story, follows the newer TMNT cartoon from 2003. Like the original comics, the turtles all wear the same color headband, which presents a bit of a problem. This may have been the original concept for the turtles, but afterwards they changed three of the turtles’ headband colors so they would each be identifiable. Now it’s confusing sometimes to tell who is who when the turtles are just standing around and talking and NOT using their easily identifiable weapons, except by their different green skin tones which are sometimes hard to tell apart.
As a TMNT fan, this was an amazing first issue from IDW Publishing that delivered everything you could have asked for, as well as some new ideas that add to the TMNT mythos. New fans will also enjoy being able to just pick up and read with little explanation needed, but the ones who are really going to enjoy this issue are the fans. This issue shows how far you can take turtle power.