Let me start off by apologizing, I promise that this will not always be about reviewing retro comics that were recently rebooted (it just seems like that so far). So without further ado I bring you Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #10. I have been a big fan of the Turtles since I was young, I was the right age to catch all of that 80s pop culture goodness (Heman/Thundercats/Ninja Turtles, etc.) and I particularly enjoyed the turtles and their insanely large cast of supporting characters, which was obviously to be expected from a franchise that included a toy line. While I never read the first Eastman/Laird Turtles comics, I know that the initial movie was based largely around that and I loved the first movie as a child (hell, even now it holds up pretty well).
I was therefore reasonably excited when I saw Kevin Eastman’s name attached to the new series from IDW. A new series, with the original creator, from a publisher known for their licensed books? Yes please. Even though I resisted picking up the first few issues, I figured, now that I have a reason to do so beyond pure fandom, I would pick up the most recent issue and just go searching for back issues/trades if I enjoyed it.
Boy am I glad that I didn’t waste my time/money from the beginning. The price point is $3.99, which is pretty much market average, especially for a book that is from a smaller publisher. I don’t begrudge them for it, and at this point you have to know that you will be spending at least four dollars per book regardless. Gone are the days of plunking down a dollar and getting a couple books (but that is a post for a later time). Back to the topic at hand; if I am going to spend my $4 on a comic book, I expect to enjoy it. That includes for me anyway, a quality story and quality art, or at least one of those two that blows me away so much that the other being sub-par does not mater that much. This is not the case with Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #10.
Let’s go through this like every other review, with the cover, story, then art.
Again more variants, and again I picked up the first one on the shelf. This cover is incredibly generic. A ¾ shot of the Shredder (cut off above the knees) walking toward us. Meh. If this was for a Shredder one-shot or the first issue of the series I could see getting away with that pose, but let me see what is going on in the book. The only thing I can discern by this cover is that Shredder is in it somewhere and he is probably pissed. The anatomy looks off to me too, something about the length of the torso. I measured it the best I could though and it checks out for the most part so maybe it’s just me. The coloring is muddy and uninspiring. This is a cover, this is supposed to draw the reader over and make you want to buy the book. To tell you the truth if I had not been looking for it I may have passed it over entirely. I can see the coloring being semi-appropriate if it was a pinup on the inside of the book, but not as a cover. “But Matt it’s the Shredder, he’s supposed to look gritty and tough” you might say. To which I reply that it is a bullshit excuse for putting out a bad cover. Brighten it up somehow, either through the colors on the Shredder himself or maybe don’t put him next to a background comprised of solid black and dark grey.
0/10 – The only thing that pops on this cover is the red title against the black background. Even looking at the variant covers (on the inside front cover) they are not much better.
Ugh, the story. You may be happy to read that Eastman was involved in the plot until you read the comic and realize that the story was basically lifted from the first series/movie. That is probably where Eastman’s involvement ends as the scripting duties fall on Tom Waltz (who is also co-plotter). Now it is not an exact beat-by-beat recreation of the movie as the character of Tatsu (you know, the big Asian dude that has trouble forming a coherent sentence without sounding like there is an impending bowel movement in his future) with a girl named Karai. Also, instead of just chaining Splinter to the wall they have him fight the Foot Clan to prove his worth, an interesting development and one where we actually get to see Splinter in action instead of just being the wise old Sensei. Waltz does a good job of, right off the bat, introducing Shredder by name as well. However we do not learn Splinter’s name until we have left that scene behind, so unless you have read the previous few issues you may be left in the dark as to who the rat is. When we do get to learn who Splinter is, Waltz does make sure to immediately connect him to the Turtles by having Raphael call him father, so that is a nice touch, especially because he is rarely ever referred to as Splinter for the remainder of the book.
One thing that really stuck with me was the realization by Shredder that Splinter was Hamato Yoshi. He calls Splinter that to his face and it is not disputed, so I have to assume that it is true. I always though that Splinter was a mutated rat though, not a rat/human hybrid. This threw me off as it takes the known Turtles lore and turns it on its ear a bit. Does this mean that the other “mutants” are also human hybrids? If this is a major plot point then fine, but why call yourself Splinter if you actually have a name? I can only hope that it is just an oversight on Waltz’s part.
He introduces other characters that really hold no significance if this is your first time reading the book as little to no background is given, and luckily the majority of the story focuses on Splinter in the clutches of the Foot Clan and the Turtles trying to figure out how to get him back, and even who took him to begin with (they apparently have no idea that the Foot are, wait for it….afoot).
There is an exchange between Leo and Don early in the book that seemed a bit out of character as well. It is probably because they just lost their father but Don has always been a little more cool-headed than he appears in this issue. I could see if it was Leo and Raphael as that fight has played out numerous times before but to see a heated shouting match between the “leader” and the “brains” seemed a little odd to me.
4/10 – Waltz did a decent job with some minor parts of the story like introducing characters and it is not incredibly hard to follow for a newbie, but it lacks originality and some of the individual moments (Leo vs. Don and the Splinter revelation) didn’t sit right with me.
I see what Dan Duncan was trying to do. Be kind of gritty, kind of edgy, like the original Turtles books, just with the addition of color and the subtraction of zipitone. You already know how much I dislike the cover, part of that is
fault, but he has to share the blame with colorist Ronda Pattison, and that
goes for the rest of the book as well.
The art is ok. I don’t mind the
turtle designs, and actually I like these more than the animated looking ones
that we have seen in the past.
However his design for Splinter is just bad. My roommate opened the comic and asked me why Splinter looked like a cross between a wet dog and a rabbit. It’s time to find some reference of rats,
Duncan. The fact that Splinter’s eyes are hidden in
shadow wouldn’t bother me so much if the shadows weren’t big black
circles. It just looks like a cartoon
Night of the Living Splinter
The coloring does not help here as everything is very muddy. I even have a hard time telling Leo and Don apart because their masks are too similarly colored. Pattison is trying too hard to make the coloring stand out and not letting the coloring actually work with the art to have a positive effect. This is probably the biggest let down art-wise aside from Rabbit Dog Splinter.
For example, that torch light is nice, but it draws our attention from the main focus, the big dude with the chain and blades.
A couple notable blemishes:
The characters, especially the humans, look kind of weird, stylized but not in an appealing way.
This page is odd. It looks like Shredder is a giant.
4/10 – While I do enjoy the design on the Turtles themselves, the rest of it is only ok. The coloring was pretty bad.
Overall 3/10 – This was a pretty big disappointment all around.