Comic Book Wednesday
Today is a special day. IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1 came out today. For those who don't recognize the significance of that, kindly see your way through the door (to HELL).
My childhood was defined by the heroes in half-shells. I was too young for the comic book in the nineties, but from the age of three and on, I completely absorbed anything TMNT I could find. All I watched were VHS tapes of the shows, and collecting the toys was my first true addiction. I remember being thrilled at getting a Casey Jones toy on my fourth birthday, only to have that joy burst into sweet, perfect nirvana when I opened up my next gift... the goddamn Technodrome. Also, I've been told I may have threatening to kill my babysitter's son because he had that tank that shot pizza pies out. Hey, kids will be kids, right?
Now, as you may have guessed from reading this blog, I'm a comic book fiend. Every Wednesday is like a little Christmas for me. I got my first book published through IDW's Angel and have had consistent comic book work ever since, so when I found out that my old childhood friends were linking up with IDW... I can't quite describe how I felt. I don't know if anything will ever match the eagerness with which I awaited issues of IDW's Angel: After the Fall series, but the announcement that they'd acquired the TMNT license and would be publishing a new on-going series made me feel like I had just turned four again and had a shiny new Technodrome awaiting me.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1
Story by Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz
Script by Tom Waltz
Art by Dan Duncan
This might be the best comic I've read all summer. It's a lot of set-up, backstory, and action, but it's just so well done. The way it balances the intrigue of how things came to be as they are with the kick-ass action is remarkable. Opening with a fight scene between the turtles and new villain Old Hob (a mutated cat), readers will quickly notice that Raphael is not present. The characters are... well, they're what readers, viewers, and toy collectors grew up on. Splinter, who narrates the battle, is wise, poetic, and a bit sad. Don and Leo get some great action bits, and Michelangelo has a one-liner for every situation. They win the battle (not really a spoiler - I mean, what did you think, they're the friggin' Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles), but it ends on a sour note when the defeated Old Hob finally addresses what we've all been wondering about. He says, "Just like that other stinkin' freak, you're all gonna disappear and be forgotten forever!"
We then see Raphael, wondering the dark streets, alone and homeless. The rest of the comic switches back from that scene to a flashback of scientists Chet, April O'Neil, and Baxter Stockman in a lab. April doesn't seem to quite know what's really going on, but it's clear that the experiments will lead the then lab animals (four turtles and a rat) to transform into our cast. I'm interested to see how these new interpretations of the characters will grow into the iconic roles.
One of the main draws for me is the rediscovery of characters that I was once obsessed with. The sly name dropping of Chet (the original owner of the turtles, back when their origin was very different), April O'Neil, Baxter, and Casey might not register with new readers as more than the introduction of new characters, but they were epic moments for me. The best, though? The estranged Raphael, while looking for food in a garbage can, pulls out a shirt with COWABUNGA! written on it, saying "Oh, now that's just wrong." These moments really made the issue for me, but I do believe that it's strong enough as a standalone book to make readers hungry for the second installment.
So yeah. I'm hooked again, just like that. The book, which find a nice balance between comedy, drama, and action, sets a new and interesting status quo for a classic series. If there's one new comic that you'll pick up this summer, let it be Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1.
NEXT WEEK: Angel & Faith #1, Kevin Smith's Bionic Man #1, Flashpoint #5, Justice League #1