IDW sure knows how to wrangle a license, don’t they? The publisher has been cranking out the mainstays that an older comics readership grew up with: “Star Trek,” “G.I. Joe,” “Transformers,” and “Godzilla,” among others. Now they’re adding “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” to that already impressive list.
The upside to that is that like all IDW licensed books; you don’t need to hold a degree in the history of that property to be able to enjoy the story right from the get-go. Of course, the more you know, the more you’ll find to enjoy in the story. Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz dial back the history, though, choosing to drop the reader into a scrum between the turtles (with Master Splinter leading them) and a gang led by a one-eyed mutated cat named Old Hob.
The fight puts the turtles on display quite nicely, allowing the reader to see how they are, as Splinter puts it, “Mutantly disciplined and precise.” Of course, if you know anything about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, you most likely know that there are four of them and that each has his weapon of choice. Missing from the battle is a fourth turtle, the one with the sais – Raphael. Over the course of this issue we catch up to Raphael, but we don’t quite find out the whole story as to his separation. After all, this is the first issue of an ongoing series.
Being a first issue, Eastman and Waltz do the reader the favor of stepping back in time to begin to address the origins of the tremendous turtle stars of this book. In that flashback we don’t see the entire story of these characters origins, but we do see how Splinter factors in and are comfortably reintroduced to April O’Neil.
Dan Duncan’s art has an underground, raw, all-nighter flair that fits the story, the characters, and the property quite nicely. Duncan may not be a master of the craft, but his storytelling is fun and exciting without being overly contrived or difficult to maneuver. Duncan’s use of stark blacks and lighter lines is enhanced by the strong color work from Ronda Pattison. The overall appearance is a good-looking book that is nothing more than it needs to be.
While I recall the “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” cartoon as geared towards a younger audience, I thought for certain this book would have a younger slant to it, but having one of the turtles utter “damn” instead of a younger term, coupled with a kick to an opponent's crotch and declaration of “No baby gangstas for you, dude!” deflated that expectation. This book is clearly aimed towards an older readership, and it serves them well.