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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Tales From the $3.99 Bin! - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret History of the Foot Clan

It’s time to step back into the sewer and look at IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series. I actually haven’t been keeping up with the title recently. I actually dropped it from my pull list though that decision was based on money instead of the book sucking. After the “City Fall” arc, I kind of lost interest with the book. I actually got issues at the house I haven’t read yet, so I may add it back to my list eventually. I was wondering what would be good to do for this month, so I’ve decided to look at a mini-series that tied into the main series: The Secret History of the Foot Clan.

TMNT: The Secret History of the Foot Clan was a four-issue mini-series that was released at the end of 2012. The story was done by the artist of the mini: Mateus Santolouco. Say that name three times. Erik Burham and Santolouco handled the script together. The colors are handled by Joao Viera and the letters were handled by Shawn Lee. Bobby Curnow is the editor. I’m not going to beat around the bush with this one. This mini-series was awesome.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Secret History of the Foot Clan
Story and Art: Mateus Santolouco
Script: Erik Burnham and Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Joao Viera
Letters: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow


SYNOPSIS
The story is split between the present and Feudal Japan. For simplicity’s sake, I’ll look at each part separately.


Past 
The past sequences come from Miller’s knowledge, Shredder’s memories, and Splinter’s memories. For those who don’t know, the Turtles and Splinter in this universe are actually a reincarnated family who were killed by the Shredder in Feudal Japan. Anyway, the Foot Clan was created by Tatsuo Takeshi who was a cunning warrior. His reign as leader was long because of a potion created by Kitsune, a shape-shifting witch who saved him after a battle. His generals find out about his alliance with Kitsune and kill him leading Kitsune to swear vengeance on them. Oroku Maji, Tatsuo’s main general, then became leader of the Foot. Kitsune consulted her “Iron Demon” who is actually an Utrom from Dimension X on what to do next.
Look familiar?

Years later, Maji’s son, Oroku Saki, is born. It’s revealed that Saki is the reincarnated version of Tatsuo and that leads Maji to treat his son with disdain. Saki grows up to be a douche and has a few run-ins with a familiar fellow: Hamato Yoshi aka Splinter. Kitsune then sets her plan into motion by having Saki find a book called “The Secret of the Foot.” With it, he finds out about the origins of the Foot. He leaves home and is followed by his father’s men. They try to bring him back home but Saki kills them. Kitsune then finds Saki and tells him of his former life. Enraged and envious, he heads home, secretly kills his father’s aide, and then kills his father himself.
Yep, Saki's lost it. He's even got "Crazy" eyes!

With no one in his way, Saki takes leadership of the Foot Clan.  Yoshi reluctantly swears allegiance to him and know that this didn’t work out for him nor his family. Some years pass and Kitsune calls her Iron Demon to their realm. It turned out to be a trap set up by Saki in order to gain the potion that Tatsuo used to stay young. Through her orders, Saki drinks the potion kills himself. He’s laid into an ooze-laden tomb which is then opened in the present day by Karai. The past segment ends with Saki in present-day New York ready to rule.


Present 
In the Present, The Turtles, April, and Casey are trying to find out more about the Foot Clan. They attend a seminar held by Dr. Patrick Miller, a historian who knows a lot about Japanese history. After the seminar, some of them plan to ask Miller about the Foot Clan. Unfortunately for them, the Foot Clan is also after Miller’s knowledge. The Foot Clan do try the subtle approach by sending Karai (Shredder’s descendent) and a few men in a limo. April, Casey, Leonardo, and Raphael do give chase and we get pretty cool car chase/fight scene. Unfortunately, they escape with Miller.

The Foot try to sway Miller with money and “The Secret of the Foot.” The Shredder wants Miller to decrypt the book for some reason. With the help of a tracker, The Turtles, Splinter, April, and Casey find their hideout and a big battle plays out. Team Turtle escape with Miller and the book of secrets. In the book, they find out that the Shredder himself is pretty much immortal. Splinter thinks it best that the book be destroyed. They find another location to recover, but the Foot Clan find them.

Another battle breaks out between the two factions. Miller basically decides to surrender himself to Shredder in order to learn their secrets. Thanks to some resourcefulness from April (she called 911), the Turtles are still able to escape with the book. Realizing that the book is no value to them and too much value to Shredder, Splinter burns the book. At the Foot’s hideout, we find out that Shredder wanted to use the book and Miller’s knowledge to find the whereabouts of Kitsune’s grave. The present day’s story ends with Shredder making Miller use his resources to find  grave. If you want to know how that ended up, click here to see the issue where Shredder found her.


OPINION
This was a cool mini-series. That’s really all I can say here. The story is really well done. While its main focus is the origin of the Foot Clan and Shredder, The Turtles are still an important part of the book. They provide some of the lighter moments as well as the action in the book. Everyone is in character here. Even the non-mutant folk like April and Casey get a few moments to shine.
I love what Mikey says last.

The main sell of the story is the origins of this Shredder and the Foot Clan. It’s all well done. The flashbacks to Japan are really good. You see Oroku Saki go from this bull-headed man with potential to a monster. In a way, it kind of mirrors the transformation of Anakin Skywalker to Darth Vader from Star Wars only with better dialogue and no Natalie Portman. I especially like the history between him and Splinter/Hamato Yoshi. The character of Kitsune was pretty interesting and her connections to Dimension X make me wonder how all that came about.

While the story is good, the biggest highlight is the artwork. The fight scenes are brilliant. They all look detailed and not confusing. The fight scenes in the past and present are pretty cool.  The past sequences are also well done art-wise. I especially like the looks of the Turtles themselves. They all have unique features. It looks like Santolouco based their looks off of how they look on the current cartoon that’s on Nickelodeon. I also like the look of the Shredder and his minions. The colors also add to the artwork looking so good.

There really isn’t anything about this I don’t like. The only thing that may be jarring is that the flashbacks in the first issue. They feel a little empty since we don’t have any recognizable characters. Still, they are good and give background on the Foot Clan’s origin. The reincarnation of Tatsuo into Saki is also weird. While the one with Splinter and the Turtles sort of makes sense, this one is just weird. Still, it’s not bad. It’s there to set up the fact that Saki had potential to be a threat to Maji.

Overall, I don’t have any glaring issues with this mini-series. It’s pretty much perfect from beginning to end. If you’re buying the main series or have any interest in it, this little tie-in is a good and pretty essential entry to the IDW series. Well, I got some Thai-related stuff to see. Peace, God Bless, and “Booyakasha!”

Eh, never mind on the booya.

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