Saturday, January 28, 2017

Tales from the $3.99 Cent Bin! - Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: "City Fall"

I knew it was time to get back to the TMNT in one form or another. I have to say that I haven’t been keeping up with the series which is still going by the way. My interest waned in it and $3.99 per issue is still a lot especially if you’re getting other stuff. I might need to make that price rant one day… Oh well!  Maybe I’ll catch up and see how the heck Splinter ended up leading the Foot Clan. For now, I’ll stick to what I got.

“City Fall” was a seven-part story that went through Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #22-#28. It was pretty much the big storyline that most stuff in the series had been building to. Even some of the other mini-series played into building this up like The Secret History of the Foot Clan. Some of their micro-series even tied into the storyline by expanding on certain characters. Tom Waltz, Bobby Curnow, and Kevin Eastman handled the story for the arc. The art was primarily done by Mateus Santolouco, the artist who did the Secret History of the Foot mini. Dan Duncan, Ross Campbell , Andy Khun, Ben Bates, Charles Paul Wilson III, and even Kevin Eastman do a couple of pages throughout the arc. So, read about how the Turtles get put through the wringer.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #22-28 - "City Fall"
Story: Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman
Art: Mateus Santolouco, Dan Duncan, Ross Campbell Andy Khun, Ben Bates, Kevin Eastman, and Charles Paul Wilson III
Colors: Rhonda Patterson
Letters: Shawn Lee and Tom B. Long
Editor: Bobby Curnow

We start out with the Shredder getting ready to take over the city’s underworld. The Foot Clan are trying to get the gangs in line but some are resisting a bit. There’s also those pesky Turtles and the rat he has to contend with too. Luckily, Saki has a plan. He has ninjas kidnap Casey Jones and Raphael while they’re off to themselves. Raph does escape but this was all a part of a plan to lure the Turtles out. Splinter and the rest of the Turtles find the Foot at the docks. In order to rile them (mostly Raph) up, Shredder stabs Casey in the stomach. A fight breaks out and while Casey is gotten out of there, Leonardo is taken by the Foot Clan.

While Casey is being tended to and the rest of the Turtles are out looking for Leonardo, Shredder hands Leonardo to Kitsumi, a shape-shifting witch. She uses her powers to brainwash Leonardo into working for Shredder and hating Splinter. Meanwhile, Splinter and the others find out where Shredder is hiding out through Old Hob, a mutated cat and their enemy. Unfortunately, Old Hob leads them into a trap with the Foot Clan and they find out about Leo’s brainwashing. The Turtles also get thrashed by Leo who’s sporting new gear. Things start to look bad until Old Hob (along with Slash, a larger mutated turtle) comes back and helps our heroes. Splinter and the Turtles escape along with Hob and wonder what made Leonardo join Shredder’s side.

A couple of weeks pass and the Turtles are no closer to finding more information. Casey does heal up though. Raphael, Donatello, and Michelangelo are trying their best to find anything on the Foot. Splinter’s even reluctantly helps out Old Hob with getting some mutagen from a lab. Meanwhile, the Foot Clan are trying to get one more gang, the Savate, under control. Shredder appoints Leonardo as his chunin (second-in-command) which ticks off his granddaughter, Karai, to no end. Shredder has ordered Leo to not kill though since that could snap him out of his brainwashing. Still, even when under Kisumini’s spell, Leo has dreams of his long lost mother from Japan.

Later, the Foot attack the Savate’s headquarters and take their leader, Victor. Shredder then plans to hold a meeting with all of the gangs in New York. Meanwhile, the Turtles start to prepare for the coming battle. Donatello goes to a scientist to get some tech that’ll help them while Raph and Mikey hit the streets. It’s Mikey that finds out where the meeting will take place. Unfortunately, they only have themselves, Old Hob, and Slash. Angel (a friend of Casey’s) tries to get her gang (the Purple Dragons) to resist the Shredder, but Hun (Casey’s father) takes leadership of the gang and decides to falls in line with the Shredder. When Casey hears about the meeting and his father, he even gets his injured self over to the meeting place.
Cool moment from Mikey.

At the meeting, Shredder parades Victor around and then beheads him. This plants doubt in Leo about the Shredder. The Turtles, Splinter, Old Hob, and Slash attack the building. A big fight breaks out that pretty much involves everyone. Even April gets in on the “fun.” Things are going somewhat smoothly when Karai shows up with two new mutants: Beebop and Rocksteady. Bebop and Rocksteady give the Turtles a tough time. Meanwhile, Leo is able to snap out of Shredder’s brainwashing with Raph’s help. Ultimately, they’re all able to get out there.

While the Shredder is peeved he’s lost Leonardo and Alopex (a mutant snow fox who ended up betraying him), he still has New York in his control. Even though Karai went behind his back a couple of times, he makes her his chunin. Elsewhere, the Turtles, April, Casey, Angel, Old Hob, and Slash decide say their goodbyes. Since New York isn’t safe for the Turtles, Casey and April are taking them out-of-town to recuperate. While Leo is back, he still feels uneasy around the rest especially Splinter. The arc ends as he hands his black headband and armguard to Slash and the Turtles leave New York.

So, what can I say about this arc? I think I could call it brilliant, but that would be taking it too far. This is a good storyline from the series. Pretty much everything is firing on all cylinders. The story is really good. We get to see the Shredder at probably his coolest. This isn’t he buffon from the 1980’s show even though he was voiced by Uncle Phil. He pretty much has the ball in his court throughout the whole arc and even at the end. Even though he lost Leo, he still has New York under his control. This wasn’t really a win for our heroes and I liked that. While it’s pretty serious, there are some funny moments woven in here and there. I mean, it’s about a bunch of ninja turtles, so some levity is needed.

The rest of the characters were all pretty good. We really got to see our heroes get put through the wringer here. Not only is one of their own injured, the one that leads them into battle is gone. We see Donnie, Raph, and Mikey step it up here. I especially liked Mikey’s moment to shine because while he’s the fun one, he can get down when he need to. Splinter even gets to show out here. What was done to Leo was messed up and pretty interesting at the same time. The sequences where Kitsumi was brainwashing him were really weird. I also liked how small characters like April and Casey were used.
Leo! Noooooo!!!

The artwork was all-around pretty good. Santalouco pretty much brought the quality he had in The Secret History of the Foot Clan here. The fight scenes look gorgeous. Everyone looks on model and pretty consistent. The dramatic scenes even have some kick. I also liked some of the small nods in the artwork. Just look out for Frank Miller and Bryan Cranston. I especially liked the additional artists during Leo’s nightmares/dream. I thought it was cool that all of the series’ previous artists came in to handle those pages. They were something.

Is there anything I don’t like about the arc? I have a couple of quibbles but not a lot. There are a couple of moments where the dialogue didn’t work for me.  I’m also split on a couple of things. I kind of wish that more explanation went into some of the smaller characters like Hun (who I was shocked to find out that he was Casey’s dad), and a couple of others. They did get tie-ins that further explained their role, but I do wish we got a little more of that in the main series. Maybe the writers didn’t want to pad this story out too long since it was already at seven issues. Other than those things and the price, this was a good arc.

Overall, if you’re a diehard TMNT fan, why haven’t you read this? It’s a roller-coaster ride from beginning to end. It’s got a good story, good art, and these characters at their best. I may one day go catch up with the series. For now, I’ll hold off. Next time, I’ll be returning to the Shaw Brothers and talk about some more over-the-top kung fu action. For now, Peace, God Bless, and watch out for Shredder!

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