For those of you living under rocks, (or in sewers in this situation) the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been back in their own monthly title for an entire year now. Written by co-creator Kevin Eastman (Heavy Metal Magazine, and the original TMNT title – Thank you, Mr. Eastman) and Tom Waltz (Ghostbusters (2011) and IDW Editor), issue #12 is the culmination of the Turtles first fight with the Foot.
I have been a fan of the Turtles since I was a kid, and this series has been a must-read for me. Eastman and Waltz have created the perfect update for my favorite lean, green fightin’ machines. The storytelling has been impeccable, something special achieved by someone who has invested so much time into these characters (Eastman). You truly get a sense of these characters and what made them the way they are. This is so evident in the fight between Shredder and Splinter. You get a sense of the seeming hopelessness of the fight, yet you can still see Splinter’s desire and will to not fail his sons. Even when Shredder gets the upper hand and is about to deal a killing strike, Splinter’s will does not falter. It was a great scene in a well-written book.
Sadly, the art is not up to par with the storytelling. Dan Duncan’s (Xenoholics, CBGB) character work and scenery have been very disappointing thus far. Thankfully, he is leaving the title in the near future. Nothing against Dan, I’m just picky with how my turtles are drawn. The characters seem to fluctuate between panels, whether it is muscle mass or even something as basic as facial structure. At one point, a member of the Purple Dragons appears to be a squid. Turns out his bandana was standing up in what appears to be the wind (However, I may be giving Duncan too much credit here). The backgrounds are equally as puzzling. In some panels, they seem to be nonexistent, and characters appear to be fighting in a grayish void.
This book is a tough call for me. When I read a comic, I look for art first and story second. In my eyes, if it’s not visually appealing, it will be very hard for me to sit through (I have the same problem with DC’s Batman title; Snyder’s story is perfect, but Capullo’s art takes away from that story.) A story has to be mind-blowing for me to ignore less-than-stellar artwork; in this case, I just couldn’t move past it. The story was very well-written and sets up future storylines (hopefully with new artists, possibly Mike Henderson, whose work on the micro-series Casey Jones issue was great).
My final verdict: If you are pulling this series, then you will be very happy with it. However, it is neither a jumping on point for new readers (issue #13 is shaping up to be that jumping on point), nor is it a superb standalone issue. Having one-half of Eastman and Laird writing Turtles again is like having a new Fantastic Four story written by Stan Lee. It is awesome, but not as awesome as it could be.