I’ll take this moment to profess my love for all things Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. I am one of their die-hard fans as seen by my letters getting printed in their comic, and submitting to their Art Contest (I don’t know if I’ve won, yet)… Oh yeah, I also own almost every single TMNT comic ever to be printed…
I adore Jim Lawson’s art which has defined the series for so long, and Dan Berger balances managing the website while still writing scripts for the issues.
I’ll first explain how this series works for those who don’t know. The series is basically a bunch of one-shot like stories where different artists and writers are offered to give their personal take on the TMNT. The Tales of the TMNT works to fill in the gaps between the Turtles’ story lines primarily from Vol. 2 and Vol. 4 which is a period in comic world that lasts 10-15 years. That’s a lot of room for writers and artists to tell their stories. Granted, many issues have also come out delving into their past pre Vol. 1 or into their future post Vol. 4. Each issue acts as a jumping in point to people who are interested in bridging the gap in continuity (one thing that honorably is not fucked up in the TMNT universe) or begin reading the comics. However, this issue does not work so much…
Sure, it could work as a jumping on point, but you kind of need to know about what happens at the beginning of Vol. 4 and the end of Vol. 2 to make more meaning out it. I feel like Berger’s script probably looked a lot better on the computer than when it was finally drawn out and finished into a comic. Lawson’s developed a very unique drawing style, but I feel like it hampers the action in this story. Gone are some wild backgrounds that he used to do (even a year or two ago) and gone are ways to convey motion. The drawing looks static, and I found the fight sequences to be difficult to follow.
I hate to say it, but Lawson has also had an on again, off again problem with drawing humans with definitive features. They tend to blend together and not really have anything that distinguishes them. This ended up causing a giant problem for me as a big turtle fan because I thought the man holding the gun on the front cover was actually Mr. Braunze from Vol. 2 (and a bit in Vol. 4), and that the plot was going to be completely different going into it. Turns out the guy’s just a gang member, and I felt stupid.
Nevertheless, Berger’s script holds up by making something interesting that really didn’t seem like it, but it also hurts occasionally out of blandness. Tristan Jones and Paul Harmon (who have recently become regulars to Mirage Studios) are bringing an edgier side to the turtles, but this issue just makes them seem a bit more flat.
I really hate to give such a low score to a book I truly, consistently love, but this is most definitely not a good issue to start reading TMNT on.