Surprise! This issue is actually better when the turtles are NOT in it. In fact, they only grace the frames of roughly 5 pages.
Primarily, the issue follows the tale of Hamato Yoshi and Oroku Saki. Both characters belong to the Foot Clan, but Yoshi leaves due to Saki extending his powers too far. Naturally, Saki seeks revenge for Yoshi disgracing him. This leads to Yoshi running off into the woods to train his four sons. Thus, the comic hints at the turtles and Splinter being the reincarnated forms of these past figures. This connection would explain how the turtles’ skills come so naturally to them. (How turtles come to embody previous spirits instead of humans is beyond me).
I have to say that the feudal Japan parts of the tale far outweigh the effort shown for the rest of the series so far. I’m a turtles die-hard and yet I found myself ready to lay down some cash for a feudal Japan comic instead of a ninja turtles comic. The art by Mateus Santolouco during these parts blow away Dan Duncan’s New York parts despite Duncan improving on this issue over the ones previous.
On to my least favorite part… I’m going to assume it was mandated by Nickelodeon – the bandannas, they are back to their cartoon colors. The reasoning for the colors is decent, but I still cannot get past the fact that it’s merely for turtle beginners to tell them apart. The beauty of the Mirage issues was that they were in B x W allowing for the reader to have to figure out which turtle was which based upon their personalities (and, for the beginners, their weapons). Oh well. I’ll get over it, but it’s still bothersome.
The writing was okay. What’s new?
IDW, if you come out with a spin-off series of the Ninja Turtles, please be with it in feudal Japan. Those were the best parts of the issue and I’m sad that they probably won’t come back that often.