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Sunday, January 12, 2014

Tales from the $3.99 (meh) Bin! - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #21

$3.99 for a single issue... Now you see why I peruse the 50 cent bin!

Today’s issue is a little different and pretty recent. It’s an issue of IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. This series started in 2011 under the pens of Kevin Eastman (co-creator of the original TMNT comics) and Tom Waltz. Initially, I had little interest in the series but the previews online did look promising. Over time, I heard more and more things about it, so I bought an issue and I really liked it. The series got added to the pull list and it’s stayed there since then for at least a year.

The series feels like a mix of the original comics, the 80’s animated show and the 2003 animated show. Now that doesn’t mean that this is rehashed stuff. The Turtles, Splinter, Casey, April and the Shredder are more or less the same, but a lot has been changed. A lot of stuff is changed with everyone… and no, the Turtles aren’t revealed to be aliens. If you want to know what I’m talking about, you’ll have to read the series for yourself. If you’ve ever been a fan of the TMNT, you’ll probably like it. Now, today’s issue is #21. The writing is done by both Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz. The overall art is actually done by Eastman himself. So, let’s see how the TMNT fare against an “unknown” foe.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #21
Writers: Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz
Artist: Kevin Eastman
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow

The issue starts out as the Turtles are on patrol in NYC. They notice that the city seems tenser like something big is about to happen. Suddenly, they’re attacked by a cloaked ninja wearing a harlequin mask. They all get taken down easily and the assailant even breaks Donatello’s staff. The ninja disappears but he lets the Turtles know that he knows where their lair is. They realize that he’s after Splinter, so they head out to stop him. They find him perched on a building waiting for them. Knowing it’s a trap, the Turtles (led by hothead Raphael) attack the ninja. He switches styles on them and trounces them once more. He leaps into an uncovered manhole to escape.

"Hmm... I wonder who this guy is," I sarcastically say.

The Turtles, realizing what they’re up against, jump into the sewers after him. He sneaks up on them “Jaws-style” and uses another style (Wing Chun) to take them out. He takes leave again and heads toward the Turtles’ lair. The Turtles chase after him and make it to the lair which is under an abandoned church. The ninja is there waiting with bo-staffs. Realizing cold steel is better than wood, Leonardo attacks the ninja. The ninja, in turn, takes down Leo and breaks one of his katanas. Now that’s pretty cool.

All of the Turtles end up using the staffs to fight the ninja. He escapes and busts into the church as the team give chase. He takes all except Donny down. Donny, an expert at the staff, is able to disarm the ninja. It looks like another battle is going to happen, but the ninja reveals his true identity… It’s Splinter!!! Insert SHOCK AND AWE here!!! He’s basically done all of this in order to prepare them for what’s to come, and I’ll just say that a lot gets throw at them over the next few issues. In Japan, the Shredder, the Foot and a historian named Doctor Miller are searching for something buried. The issue ends as they find a tomb that contains Kitsune, Saki's long-lost, immortal ally.
"No! It's not true! That's impossible--" ah, screw it. Who couldn't see this coming?

................................

I chose this one issue since it fits into the theme of the month. The Turtles basically get schooled by Splinter in a pretty interesting way. I also chose it because the issues before it and after it are part of major story arcs. This issue is the definition of filler. Not much happens, but it is still an okay story. While not a lot happens, Splinter’s test is just one of the many challenges the Turtles will face over the next few issues. I also liked the dialogue with all of the Turtles. They all sound how they should sound.

I also liked the artwork for the most part. While I’m not a big fan of Eastman, it’s cool to see the original TMNT artist drawing the on the book. The scene with the Shredder at the end was a nice reveal and a pretty major one a that. Kitsune was a major character introduced in TMNT: The Origin of the Foot Clan, a really good mini-series that shows the origin of this Shredder. That scene and this issue leads into a new storyline called "City Fall." All I’m going to say is this: Stuff Happens. A lot of stuff happens.

There are a couple of drawbacks. The fights get a little repetitive with Splinter beating them and running away. My main gripe is the reveal with Splinter. They didn’t hide it that well at all. I saw the preview of this issue on Comicvine and I knew it was Splinter the moment we saw him attack the Turtles. That may have been the point since it all was just a lesson. Also, while I like the art, some of the fight scenes look a little confusing. You really couldn’t tell what was going on in some of the smaller panels.

Even though it’s not a perfect filler issue, it’s a good filler issue. If I had to give it a rating, I’d give it 3 turtle shells out of 5. Well, I’m outta here. My next issue was going to put two legends up against one another, but then I found a mini-series in my boxes that really sets the mood.It involves a certain Boy Wonder. Peace, God Bless, and “Cowabunga!”

NEXT TIME: ROBIN, LADY SHIVA, AND BRITISH DAREDEVIL!!!!

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