Comic Book Wednesday
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
MICROSERIES #1: Raphael
Written by Brian Lynch
Art by Franco Urru
It feels like old times.
It seems like ages, but only four years have passed since I began reviewing IDW's ANGEL: AFTER THE FALL. It was the official continuation of Joss Whedon's epic show (my favorite of all time) written by Brian Lynch. I'd done coverage on my blog of Brian's previous work in the Buffyverse (two SPIKE miniseries), but it was ATF that made me realize how great a writer this guy is. Over the following years, my blog Buffyverse Comic Reviews covered all of his comic book work, and while it was honest and critical when I felt something was off, I found myself resorting to hyperbolic praise more often than not. Thing is, looking back at his work on IDW's ANGEL and SPIKE titles... those books, for my money, are more often than not... well, fucking brilliant.
I'm thrilled that Brian contributed scripts to this TMNT "microseries" (four spotlight issues focusing on each of the turtles), because not only did this franchise define my childhood, it's also one of this year's most enjoyable new series. So realize that I mean absolutely no offense toward the main TMNT series when I say that this is far and away the best IDW title I've read all year. And if you frequent this blog, you know I read a hell of a lot of books from them.
It's got the humor and snarkiness, but not as much as you'd expect. It shows a somewhat sullen Raphael; while he's no stick in the mud, and not even close to the sort of Frank Miller characters that the original comics were parodying, he's not crackin' wises in every panel. He's got some serious issues communicating, and his conversations with Casey, while seemingly light, speak volumes without really saying much. Brian, through a few well-placed lines, communicates that while Raph (who was missing until last week's issue) has grown to love his brothers quickly, it isn't nearly as easy as "Raphael is taken in by the others, everything is okay, copious amounts of pizzas are ordered." There are some serious issues here, but all of this serves to simply add texture to the comic, flesh out the characters, and give a nice context to the story being told.
And the story... holy whoa. A lot more major plot developments happened here than I expected. Things that I would have thought would be saved for the main title, so the element of surprise was extreme. In this issue, a run-in with a mutant fox (being chased by thugs who longtime fans will recognize as the pre-mutation forms of Beebop and Rocksteady!) leads Raph to the revelation that some dark and mysterious baddie wants to know where the turtles' hideout is. Turns out, that villain is...
(If you don't like spoilers, see you tomorrow. This is too big to hold back.)
Talk about a reveal. I'm not sure if each of these one-shots will build on the plot Brian whipped up in this one, or if they're saving all of that for the main series and this just served to give us an unexpected and exciting peek at the dangers we've been waiting for, but all I know was that this was an absolutely great read. Franco Urru, who collaborated with Brian on more than twenty-five Buffyverse comics, does art chores for this book, and he brings such movement to the action scenes. He also nails the quiet scenes, but if you want to read me carrying on about how Franco is the best artist working in comics, you can read any given ANGEL review on my Buffyverse blog. Seriously - you can keep your big Marvel and DC names. Can't beat Franco. And with colors by Fabio Mantovani, this makes for one beautiful book.
Reading Brian Lynch's ANGEL and SPIKE comics was what made me realize that writing comic books was something I'd be interested in doing for a living, and everything that made those books so wonderful is present in this comic. What more can you ask for?
TOMORROW: Supernatural, Action Comics, Detective Comics