Tuesday, October 10, 2017

TMNT 2017 Summer Shorts festival review at AIPT


As eager as I am to review the third season of the 4Kids TMNT cartoon, I decided to take a detour this month and cover the ill-executed TMNT 2017 Summer Shorts festival. 

You can find my review (with embedded videos of each short) over at AIPT.

The series didn't live up to its promotional promises ("One new short every Sunday, all summer long"...?  Yeah right).  Be that as it may, some of the shorts they released were really, really good.  Let's try to stay upbeat.

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Got another variant cover coming, this time for TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #1


My artist buddy, Timothy Lim ("Ninjaink") came up with another IDW TMNT variant cover!  This time, it's for TMNT/Ghostbusters 2 #1 and I think the inspiration/reference should be obvious.

You can preorder one now from the Heroes & Fantasies website; the variant is limited to 1000 copies.

Looking forward to the miniseries, which begins November 1.

UPDATE:  Because apparently the inspiration/reference isn't obvious enough...


C'mon, people!  Ghostbusters II was a masterpiece!

Saturday, September 30, 2017

TMNT (IDW) #74


Publication date: September 27, 2017

Story: Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, Tom Waltz
Script: Tom Waltz
Art: Cory Smith
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee 
Edits: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams

"The Trial of Krang, Part Two"

Summary:

In Dimension X, the Hot Rod is being pursued by the Malignoid Swarm.  Zak and Kala call on Ace Duck to play gunner and he keeps the Swarm back long enough for them to reach backup in the form of Commander Zom and his Triceraton forces.  They fight the Swarm back, allowing the Hot Rod (containing the Turtles and the witnesses) to reach Smada City on Planet Neutrino.  Once there, Commander Dask has the witnesses escorted into protective custody, unaware that Hakk-R is watching from the rooftops.


At the royal palace, the Turtles reunite with Princess Tribb while King Zenter and Queen Gizzla get a sitrep from Commander Zom.  His Triceratons were successful in driving the Swarm's first wave back, albeit it the cost of several lives.  In exchange for the continued aid of the Triceratons, King Zenter vows to find a planet for them which the nomadic race can claim as their new homeworld.

As the trial begins, the Turtles join the royal family in the palace to watch the event, while Donatello joins the Fugitoid in the courtroom to assist with the prosecution.  Judge Gorath enters and opening statements are made.  The Fugitoid is confident that General Krang's misdeeds, all a matter of public record, are enough to seal his fate, but also says that the witness testimonies will prove Krang's guilt beyond any shadow of a doubt.  The defense attorney then makes his statement, reminding the court that Krang waged his campaign to save the lives of the Utrom people, and was successful in his endeavor.  Furthermore, all of his methods used during his campaign were within the boundaries of the war charters of the era (albeit those charters were written by the Utrom Empire, who were the prevailing dimensional superpower at the time, but the adherence to law still stands).


The first witness, B'een Go, is called to the stand.  He tells the court how Krang's men kidnapped him and used his empathic abilities to interrogate POWs.  The defense argues that Krang-himself was not present for the kidnapping or any of those interrogations and was unaware of the methods being used.


The second set of witnesses, Anemon and Eymo, are called to the stand.  Anemon tells the court how he served Krang in exchange for the safety of his people, only for Krang to destroy his entire homeworld of Akebono.  The defense then presents the contract Anemon signed when he entered into Krang's service, with a caveat that any testimony he should provide in a court of law must be rendered null and void at Krang's discretion.


The third witness, Stump, is called to the stand.  The Fugitoid asks him about the circumstances of how Krang clearcut his entire homeworld, rendering it a barren wasteland.  Stump shares his outrage, but not regarding the fate of his planet, but how he wishes he had negotiated a better deal with Krang when he sold him the lumber rights.  The defense declines to question the witness.

With things going badly, the Fugitoid decides to call in his surprise witness: Leatherhead!  Krang is worried and the defense attorney had not prepared to counter any of Leatherhead's testimony.  But before he can speak, the Malignoid swarm attacks Smada and the trial is postponed.  The Turtles join the Neutrinos in defending the city.  Meanwhile, Hakk-R attacks Judge Gorath in his chambers...


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT (IDW) #73.  The story continues in TMNT (IDW) #75.

*The Turtles collected the last of the witnesses in TMNT: Dimension X #5.

*The Turtles met Zog in TMNT Annual 2014.

*The Triceratons' history with the Utroms was chronicled in the TMNT: Utrom Empire miniseries.

*Judge Gorath originates from the 4Kids TMNT series, first appearing in "The Big Brawl, Part 2".  Obscure as obscure can be.

*This issue was originally published with 5 variant covers: Cover A by Cory Smith and Ronda Pattison, Cover B by Kevin Eastman and Tomi Varga, Retailer Incentive Cover by Donny Tran and Pattison, Planet Awesome Collectibles Variant Cover by Marat Mychaels, and Yesteryear Comics Exclusive Variant Casey Jones FunkoPop photo cover.


Review:

Just when you think you've seen everything under the sun when it comes to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, something like THIS lands in your lap: The Turtles engaging in a courtroom drama.  See?  There's still room for new ideas in this decades-worn franchise.

The pacing of the "Trial of Krang" arc is a bit whacked, requiring you to read a separate miniseries in the middle of it and all, but the pacing of THIS issue is actually very nicely done.  It opens up with plenty of action, from Ace Duck gunning down Maligoids to an army of Triceraton commandos engaging the enemy.  It then leads into some behind-the-scenes intrigue, as King Zenter makes a questionable deal with Commander Zom in private.  And once all THAT'S over with, we get to the extended wordiness of the actual trial.

It was well-paced, I think, as it gives the less patient of us plenty of action going in, but then rewards the more curious among us with the legit trial we've been promised.  I've WANTED to see pages and pages of the alien witnesses getting cross-examined and I'm glad we weren't shortchanged on any of that (and we're only halfway through the witnesses, as a matter of fact).  I think everybody ought to get what they want out of this one, both in terms of action and the aforementioned courtroom drama.

We're also finally getting some payoff regarding the Triceratons.  They've been around in the IDW continuity since 2014, but haven't been the center of any plot lines yet.  They've just been... present.  Since we know the upcoming story arc is going to be called "Invasion of the Triceratons", I think we can put together what their participation in the IDW universe is finally going to come down to.  It was a bit of a wait, but I'm looking forward to it.

I suppose if there was anything absent from this issue, it would be any meaningful contributions from the title characters.  The Turtles are entirely passive in this installment, which isn't too major a trespass, since I love almost all these other characters and want to see them shine.  The Turtles will get back behind the wheel next issue, I'm sure.  Until then, it was kind of fun to see the Neutrinos and Ace Duck and the Fugitoid steal the show for a month.



Tuesday, September 19, 2017

TMNT Universe #14


Publication date: September 13, 2017

Writer: Erik Burnham, Sophie Campbell
Artist: Sophie Campbell
Colorist: Brittany Peer
Letterer: Shawn Lee
Editor: Bobby Curnow
Publisher: Ted Adams

"Karai's Path, Part 3"

Summary:

MAIN STORY:

At Toru's headquarters, he receives a call from his spy who reports Karai and the mutants heading into the cave.  Toru orders his forces to execute them if they make it back out.  Overhearing this, Natsu accuses her grandfather of being dishonorable, but he scolds her for being naive (and also conveniently drops exposition about Natsu's parents being killed because they were too honorable).  He tells Natsu that Karai was a threat that he needed to eliminate, so he sent her on the wild goose chase to find the magic sword just so he could have her ambushed and killed.  Whether or not she found the sword was immaterial.  Natsu storms out and Toru warns her that she won't be welcomed back.


In the cave, Karai, Koya and Bludgeon are approached by a bunch of Disturbed album covers.  The evil spirits cannot attack except in retaliation, so they begin taking provocative forms, like the Shredder and the Turtles, to provoke them into reacting.  Karai and Bludgeon ignore the taunts, but Koya begins getting irritable when a zombie-Leonardo mocks her inability to fly.

Meanwhile, Natsu sneaks into Karai's apartment and warns Toshiro of her grandfather's ambush.  Toshiro is inclined to believe her, but insists that she come along with him so they can warn Karai together.


Down in the cave, Koya snaps and attacks a zombie, giving the horde of the undead license to pounce.  Karai leads her team into the next chamber and Bludgeon seals the entrance with a stone slab so the zombies cannot give chase.  They find the sword at the other end of the chamber, but their path is blocked by a huge, three-eyed mutant mole named Ocho.  In the early 14th century, she was a human woman, but Kitsune cursed her to be a mole and guard the sword until someone worthy could claim it and return it to the heavens.  Karai insists on fighting Ocho alone, but Ocho trounces her.  Finally, she asks Bludgeon to give her a Fastball Special and he hurls Karai over Ocho's head.


Landing on the other end of the chamber, Karai claims the sword.  On the wall near the sword are a trio of talismans, one of which catches Koya's eye...


BACK UP STORY:

Story and art: Sophie Campbell

"Prey, Part 3"

Koya is still at Bludgeon's throat as he tries to convince her to fight the talisman's influence.  She becomes distracted when Ocho emerges from the earth and beckons her to do battle.


Koya and Ocho tangle, but Ocho repeatedly retreats underground and emerges, only to strike and vanish again.  Finally, Koya falls...


Turtle Tips:

*This story is continued from TMNT Universe #13.  The story continues in TMNT Universe #15.

*This issue was originally published with 3 variant covers: Cover A by Freddie E. Williams II, Cover B by Sophie Campbell, and Incentive Cover by Leila Del Duca.


Review:

Zombies?  Now you've really got my attention.  And a giant three-eyed mole-woman?  Aw, you shouldn't have.

Part 3 of "Karai's Path" has a lot of "cool stuff" in it, and I liked all that "cool stuff", but the "cool stuff" almost seems more a measure to create misdirection from some of the stock characterizations and predictable heel-turns that dot the other half of the issue.  Natsu and Toru's conversation about that old Japanese caricature cliche, "honor", was just a little bit excruciating.  The grizzled old timer thinks honor is for the naive, but the hip youngster believes there's still room for honor in this world.  She'll show HIM!

Also, there's that little info-dump where he reminds her that her parents are dead, because God knows, whenever you or me get into an argument with someone, they have to recite our life story back to us in case we forgot.  Of course, I complain about that now, but I'm sure I'll welcome it when I have Alzheimer's.

I'm beating up on this story a bit much, and that's not really fair.  It still has all that cool stuff I was talking about.  While the zombie scenario played out as we'd expect it to, there's no denying that the pencils and especially the colors on that sequence looked superb.  Koya being the one to fold under pressure went as anticipated, but what, did anybody reading NOT want someone to screw up and make the zombies attack?  What kind of comic would this be if we didn't get a zombie attack?  Though with the way Koya's been portrayed in this story arc, I'm thinking "Karai's Path" should have more accurately been titled "Koya Ruins Everything".

The effect used for Bludgeon's "sight beyond sight" is something in-between the "white silhouette floating in negative space" approach Jim Lawson loves and the heat signatures from Predator.  Maybe not the most innovative visual, but it has it's moments.  There's a panel where Bludgeon "sees" Ocho, but he can make out the silhouette of the human woman tethered to the figure of the mole monster.  What was nice was that the moment was left entirely up to the visual; no dialogue from Bludgeon describing what he was sensing or anything redundant like that.

Ocho is a big scary three-eyed mole monster.  I dunno; not much else to say, other than I dig the design and tying her into Kitsune's time menacing ancient Japan was a nice touch.  She mentions that she derives her name from the Ocho Period, one of Japan's shortest (spanning 1311 to 1312).  I dunno if there's any underlying significance to that, like maybe she won't be around for very long, but I have a tendency to read into things.

Oh, and raise your hand if you've seen Dodgeball.


The back-up consists of Koya getting punched a lot by Ocho.  Hm.  I'm thinking "Prey" will read a lot better altogether and as a sequel/epilogue to "Karai's Path".  Breaking it up and running it in tandem with the story it is intended to narratively follow hasn't been doing it any favors.

If I had any other thoughts on this issue, I suppose it's that Karai could really use some rhinoplasty.