Friday, April 18, 2014

CBR Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol.1 (IDW)

Time to have a look at the all-new rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles on-going!

The Ninja Turtles return to comics in their first IDW adventure!

Comic title: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Vol.1: Change is Constant aka IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles or simply Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2011)
Art by Dan Duncan 
Written by Kevin Eastman & Tom Waltz 
Layouts by Kevin Eastman

Published by IDW Publishing 
From 2012
Lineup IDW's TMNT series
Format: Trade paperback collecting Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1-4.

This new on-going series of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles marks the first new comic book series in the franchise since Nickelodeon bought TMNT in October 2009 from one of the Turtles' co-creator, Peter Laid.

The original independent publisher Mirage Comics closed shortly after. While Mirage still retained rights to publish about 18 issues a year, they didn't followed this up and Laid's been mostly selling stock material on auction sites such as ebay.

Nickelodeon went to IDW to produce a brand new comics series to celebrate the occasion (in anticipation of this year's 30th Anniversary of TMNT, no doubt). IDW Publishing had so far a lot of success regarding their licensed comics. Publishing some actual quality adaptations and titles.

IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is not only the return of the Turtles to the medium that created them. It's also the return of Kevin Eastman to the franchise, he hadn't been involved with TMNT in ages. Eastman hadn't been attached to anything TMNT for years since he sold his share of the Turtles rights to Peter laird back in 2000.

Kevin Eastman partnered up with IDW to take over the series this time. Fun fact, during the last incarnation of the series, it was Laird who was penning the story.

This time IDW left Eastman in charge of this entire reboot without Laird. The Heavy Metal creator has always been the more creative one of the two in my eyes.

Kevin Eastman's take of the TMNT mythos is a much more fantastic take on Turtles, with brand new ideas while still remaining very true to the core franchise.

While the original first issue of Eastman and Laird's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles was produced as a stand alone comic, which was then expanded into an actual series following its success, this new take on the Turtles was imagined on the go as much more ambitious on-going series.

Now broken down to smaller episodic story-arcs (the trade volumes).

This first volume contains the first story arc, issues #1-4.

The actual first issue starts mostly similarly to the original one, echoing to the old classic.

The story starts mostly the same way. It opens in medias res with a fight between gangs, only this time the Purple Dragons aren't used just yet.

The Ninja Turtles are in a fight with some punks. We are introduced to Old Hob, a brand new character already, an anthropomorphic cat (who was the first newly designed character by Eastman in years since he left the franchise).

We learn how our heroes in a half-shell are looking for their missing brother, Raphael.

It all started about 15 months earlier, at the Stockgen Research Laboratories of Baxter Stockman. April O’Neil was working there part-time as an assistant with this guy named Chet. She named these pet turtles: Raphael, Leonardo, Donatello and Michelangelo. There also was some rat they were experimented some drug tests on, nicknamed "Splinter".

One night some mysterious ninjas broke into the lab for this strange green ooze. We also get a glimpse/allusion to a General Krang on some remote island. Apparently Baxter was trying to develop super soldiers for him.

It mostly the same general origin story, with some new twists and some clever ties into a bigger picture.

We would get a much deeper secondary origin story in the later issue #5, tying into feudal Japan and the origins of the Foot Clan...

It sets our new Turtles into a different new take

Long story short, an accident had our little normal turtles enter in contact with the fluorescent goo, Splinter who had been keeping an eye on them in the lab so far had to protect them from an alley cat. Splinter was able to hurt the feline but not before it had the time to grab one of the four turtles and run away.

Flashforward some months later and our mutated turtles are now living in the sewers with their rodent father.

One of the big twists of this new origin is Raphael being separated from the rest of the gang at the start. Wandering through the streets one night he found this father beating his own son and had to intervene... That's when he met Casey Jones. Their friendship is born from a different perspective this time, but this early bond helps set Raph as the rebel of the group. And since he didn't receive the same training he won't have the same respect for rules and the whole martial arts-angle.

To take some time away from his drunk father, Casey and Raph roam New York City beating muggers.

Meanwhile his brothers are looking for him.

But Old Hob and his street gang are also on the lookout to take their revenge on them.

Donnie and Mikey think it's time to go on the offense, Hob just might finally find their current home. But Leo wanna play this carefully.

It makes for a general storyline much more thought in advance now, using elements from the original Mirage comics series as well as other continuities such as the cartoons and the films.

IDW's Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is a different new incarnation of the Turtles. A clean new slate.

"Change is Constant".

The first volume's title is apropos.

Things change, others don't. Family is still at the core of this book.

While there are only hints regarding their true origin and other background elements in this first story arc, we do get some named dropped and cameos here and there. Such as April or Krang.

In this new version of the TMNT they've only been mutants for several months so far. Strangely, they are apparently also sea turtles now. Not sure that will end up being much used or it was just a mere cosmetic change without any clear end goal.

The mutated cat Old Hob with his eyepatch is a nice new addition. And feels natural in the story. It's nice to have another mutant resulted from this origin story. Having all of it result from a lab makes for a more cohesive storyline.

The Turtles are also back to the red bandannas from the original series. No colors just yet (that will come in later). It can be a bit confusing though (but the slightly different color skin help set them apart).

The Shredder was omitted in these first issues - an odd change since he's usually present at the beginning of each iteration of the TMNT. But it's for the better, since it leaves some room for the story to breath.

The art is really gorgeous through and though. Setting the tone of this new book right on the first page.

Dan Duncan's art while a bit rough is perfect for a New York City-based story. Really great and highly dynamic. Fun, slightly-cartoony and Duncan can really give some expressive faces to the Turtles.

This great new series also features some lovely colorful visuals. All thanks to colorist Ronda Pattison who did a fantastic work.

This set the lovely art direction for this new series.

IDW printed these comics with several alternate covers, as usual. While I absolutely love Eastman and Duncan's main covers, you also get some other so-so covers such as the vintage parodies by Fred Hembeck, some disturbing take by Sam Kieth and a decent hilarious Walter Simonson one...

Overall, IDW's TMNT is a fantastic new take on the Ninja Turtles.

Highly Recommended, well worth a look for both 80s fans and new readers! This is the Turtles for a new generation, worthy successor of the originals. With plenty of nods and allusions to the originals along brand new ideas!

"Change is Constant" is the first trade of these IDW-licensed Ninja Turtles shared by their new owners, Nickelodeon.

This series was a huge surprise for me, probably the biggest comic book surprise of these last few couple of  years.

It turned out great, it's actually a pretty great new series. Highly enjoyable and pretty fun. Thanks for the most part for having one of its original creators Kevin Eastman attached to it, giving this whole reboot a lot more gravitas.

Following these first few issues, IDW start publishing all sorts of mini-series and "Micro-series" along it with a rotation of different characters.

This is it. The Turtles are back! 

I give it:
3 / 3 Ampersands!

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