by Zachary Whittaker
So if you’ve been keeping up to date with our podcast, or following us on Instagram, you’re probably aware that I’m attempting to read the first 100 issues of the IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles by the end of May, because we’re discussing Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Reborn for a book club meeting and podcast at the start of June.
It’s a really big challenge I’ll admit, but one that I’m fairly positive I can complete in time, and even if I can’t I’m still going to do all the reading, because I’m having a great time. Let me tell you a bit more.
Beginning in 2012 IDW rebooted the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comic book universe, with one of their creators, Kevin Eastman, taking up writing duties and being accompanied by a host of great talents to co-create the ongoing series and a variety of micro-series’ that accompany it. This rebooted universe folds in ideas from essentially every previous incarnation the Turtles have had, while introducing some new ideas along the way. I’ll admit, I was a huge TMNT fan when I was younger, but this has lapsed a bit as I’ve gotten older, although I’ve seen the Michael Bay films, and a few episodes of the more recent animated series’, I hadn’t really been paying much attention until I read some random micro-series issues a few years ago, which piqued my interest in the comics.
I don’t want to just give you a synopsis of the story so far, which is what my first draft of this article became, but I do want to tell you a little bit about what I’ve read. The third hardcover collection is largely an event named City Fall and a lot of what comes beforehand paves the way to this event. These early volumes cover the Turtles origin, the introduction of Shredder and the Foot clan, and cover some of their history together, showing that there’s not just mutation but also reincarnation in play here. While that would be plenty to get into, there’s also the introduction of Stockgen and their owner Baxter Stockman, which paves the way for the introduction of Krang and his interdimensional backstory.
Although there’s some showdowns between the Turtles and Krang early on, the majority of these early volumes focus on Shredder and Splinters centuries old rivalry and Shredder’s intention to take over the world with the help of the Foot clan, and a few mutated animals here and there.
There’s no shortage of epic storylines in what I’ve read so far, but honestly, that isn’t what makes this series so good, don’t get me wrong, City Fall ranks high as a comic book event, but it’s the flawlessly interconnected story telling that makes it great. This is a series that feels like it has absolutely no wasted motion, if a character is presented, they’re there for a reason, and while characters like April O’Neill, Casey Jones or Bebop and Rocksteady are absolute must haves. It’s hard to imagine that Woody the pizza guy, or Fighting Ferguson and Kid Kennedy (the drunk former boxers) could be anything more than one of fillers in a lot of superhero comics, but here, they matter, and you might even find yourself getting as attached to the as the protagonists are. Throughout every issue I’ve read so far every character feels like their own person, carefully considered and brilliantly individual. The Turtles are more than just the base personalities it feels like they’re so easily reduced to, and so does everyone else.
Equally you might be used to skipping some tie-in issues in other comic book universes, but in the world of TMNT everything feel essential, because everything is important. You might not see a character in the pages of the ongoing series, but there’s a good chance they’re busy in a micro-series, and even if they’re not, the next time you see them they will have progressed from their last appearance.
Maybe you’re not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles fan, and you’re not sure that this is for you, I can understand that, but if you’re an existing fan, you should give this a try. If you’re not, but you’re looking for something different in superhero comics, or if you’re willing to try something pretty out there, that’s a lot of fun, but also well put together, maybe you should check this out.