As many children who grew up in the late 80s/early 90s I was a huge Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fan. Huge, I tell you. I had the acitons, watched the cartoon every day, and at the cereal. If it was Ninja Turtle related then I wanted it.
I always had an interest in comics and I thought it was cool that the series was based from a comic book. I just had never read the original comics. I knew they were darker but just never got my hands on them. I did read the Archie series Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Adventures, which was a fun series. It had the look of the TV show but deviated away and created it's own continuity. But I was always curious about those original comics from Mirage studios.
Then I grew up. The Turtles faded away. I got interested in other things and all but forgot about them. I still had fond memories of being a fan and the hours of enjoyment they gave me. I got reading other comics and the turtles were the last on my mind. Years later I find out that the original series is being collected. I become a kid again. I'm eager to see my childhood favorites as they were originally intended. The collection however, kept being delayed.
Finally it was released and I got it! I was expecting a hardcover because that was what was solicited. It had 8 issues so I wasn't expecting it to be that big. Imagine my excitment when it was a huge hardcover. It's loaded with content and the size of the big is bigger than your average hardcover. It's almost the size of one of DC's Absolutes. To add the icing on the cake, it didn't have one of those annoying slips covers.
So how is it? So far so good. I've only read an issue and a half. There is commentary at the end by Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird after each issue. It's all interesting. I'm going to continue to update as I read. Feel free to comment!
This hardcover collects issues 1-7 and the Rapheal one-shot.
The first issue starts with the Turtles against a wall. Leonardo is narrating the situation. Suddenly the Turtles leap into action and slice their oppents up. Then they disapear in the night. Honestly this is a great intro. If they ever make another movie, the should use this begining. I don't care what's in the middle and the ending should be similiar to this issues ending.
The story then goes to the Turtles returning home to Master Splinter and learning their true origin. They learn what they've been training for. They then make their attack on Shredder.
The art is fantastic. It's rough in parts yet detailed. The inking is what really sells it. Also the big pages really make the pictures pop.
The characters are pretty good. And seem true to how I remember them. Leonardo, Rapheal, and Splinter are all well realized. Donatello and Michelangelo haven't really been fleshed out, yet.
The story is pretty basic but still fun. It's similiar to the first film, more than the cartoon. The turtles' origin as told by Splinter is almost identical to the origin in the movie. The look of the comic is also similar to the first movie. The movie of course fleshed out a 40 page comic into an hour and a half film.
One thing, April O'Neil and Casey Jones are not in this first issue. I was kinda surprised. I know they make appearnces early on but they are the Turtles' biggest allies, I figured they made issue 1 appearnces.
Here we are introduced to three mainstays of the TMNT cartoon universe- Baxter Stockman, April O'Neil, and the Mousers. Unlike every other portrayal of her, April is Baxter's lab assistant not a reporter. Unlike the cartoon Baxter is an African American scientist and a sociopath. In the cartoon he was a very nerdy caucasion who ends up working for Shredder. Since there's no Shredder in this issue, Stockman works for himself.
This issue was pretty good. The Turtles now must decide what their goal in life is since their original intent of defeating Shredder is now complete. Upon meeting April and finding the true intent of Stockman and his mousers, the Turtles become vigilantes of sorts. This issue ends with a cliffhanger of sorts.
This issue reads a little different because I believe Eastman and Laird are still trying to figure out their goal with the series. They even stated in the commentary they didn't expect there to be a #2. Here there may be hints of a larger story starting in issue 2 but it's too soon to tell.
The creators have stated that they were just having fun with this series. A lof of the first two issues are homages to other things. A lof the action scenes are meant to feel like big moments in a movie. They also stated that a lot of the splash pages are inspired by Jack Kirby's style.
Another interesting thing is that Eastman and Lair are both the writer and the artist. They each worked on the book in both capacities. Very unusual but it works.
The part of this issue that drags is the chunk that focuses on Stockman and April. It's very basic dialogue.
The turtles return to the sewer hideout after their battle with the Mousers only to find Splinter missing and the place trashed. They decide it's not safe stay and end up crashing with April. However, on the way April's van is mistaken for another van involved in a bank robbery. A huge chase scene ensues. By happenstance they pass the actual van which the cops aprehend, allowing April and the Turtles to get away. When they get to April's apartment the turtles vow to lay low while searching for Splinter.
Wait there's more! There's an epilogue showing where Splinter has been. During the turtles battle with the mousers in issue 2, a few mousers got into the turtles sewer hideout. Splinter is able to defeat them but is badly injured. He is found by some scientist that are searching the sewers. He's taken to TCRI lab where he is researched. When he comes to, he attempts to make an escape. The last page reveals the scientists of TCRI aren't humans but actually talking robot brains!
In the afterwards by Eastman and Laird, they stated that this issue was intended to be a big car chase scene because it's something that they always wanted to do. I must say, mission accomplished. They do a good job with this issue. While I'd rather see some kung fu action, the car chase is fun and ridiculous. The epilogue with Splinter is good too. They wanted to show why he is the master. This is also the start of a multi issue arc they were going to attempt.
I've read almost all of this collection. I've got just one issue left. It's been a lot of fun and I'll be posting more later.
There's just a lot of zaniness with this that wasn't in the cartoon or films. Eastman and Laird are both huge comic book fans who basically wanted to make their own comics and honor their heroes at the same time. There's lots of Kirby-esqe splash pages throughout. A lot of the issue are exploring different things they wanted to do whether it be martial arts fights, alien brains, car chases or a tribute to Star Wars (we'll get to that later). Normally this could be stale but the Turtles are interesting enough characters. The fact that they are socially inept teenagers who just happen to be experts at karate make for some interesting interactions and stories.
Back when I was a high school teacher, the seniors’ final grades were due a week before they were released from attending classes. This left the problem what to do for that last week when they knew it wouldn’t affect their grades? One of my students jokingly suggested, “Why don’t we study the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles?” Little did she know I would take her seriously, breaking down each word of the title into its component parts. I structured the week’s lesson plan around the “Masters of the Comic Book Art” video tape, all outside reading being voluntary. It really went very well; I was quite pleased.
The extent of my Turtles reading is the crossover with Cerebus and a tpb reprinting the first dozen issues. It never really grabbed me the way it grabbed you, but I’ve only read those issues once. Maybe I should read them again while you’re leading this discussion.
Ah, Issue #3 was my first issue of the series. It has probably been over 20 years since I last read it. I still have that oversized comic and few others in my collection.
Glad to both of you contribute. Jeff, I've tried to model this after your other archive discussions. The more the merrier, even if you haven't read everything I'm discussing.
I don't expect everyone to love the turtles. They were a big part of my pop culture life though. I think what hooked me is more of the nostalgic aspect of this collection. Not saying the stories aren't good, they are. It's a blast to read them as they were originally intended. I'll have more thoughts on this collection and the turtles themselves once I've finished with the collection. I plan to keep this going once volume 2 is released, whenever that may be.
Raphael Micro Series
Eastman and Laird published one-shots featuring each of the Turtles. This was the first of the four and the only one featured in this collection.
The Turtles are having no luck finding Splinter while hiding out in April's home. During a training session, Raphael who is the volatile one of the 4 has a break out of rage. He's reprimanded and goes out into the night on his own to sulk. He comes across Casey Jones, a masked vigilante. Raph sees a lot of himself in Casey, when Casey nearly beats a thug to death. Raph realizes that over aggression is not the answer. He and Casey do not see eye to eye and a huge fight ensues . Eventually Casey sees things Raphs way and the two go off to stop an mugging.
This issue gets some character development for our Turtles. Up until now with the exception of a few moments, they were all basically one unit. You get that Leo is the leader, Raph is the loose cannon, Don is the techy, and Mike is care-free. But it's not explored a lot. This issue focuses a lot on Raph and shows that all four brothers are very different. It also introduces Casey Jones who becomes big in the TMNT universe. He's only featured once in this collection but he was in the cartoon and featured in many of the TMNT films.
This issue is one big fight scene. However it's fun and well done. It's nice to see some character development as well. Besides Rapheal was always my favorite.
This is when things heat up. The turtles go out at night to search for Splinter and come across the foot clan. The Foot want revenge for the death of Shredder in issue 1. An epic rooftop battle occurs with the turtles winning, though they are all cut up from the fight. However they notice a building the the the letters TCRI. The same letters on the container of OOZE that caused their mutation! They go back to April's a devise a plan. Later they infiltrate the building using Donatello's technical prowess. Once in they locate Splinter in a tank on life support. They free him but come in conflict with the TCRI aliens. A fight breaks out. The turtles end up in a room holding a translocator. The issue ends with them disapearing!
This was a good issue. There's a lot going on. The fight with the foot is excellent. You can tell the both Eastman and Laird's style has improved in regard to fighting since issue one. The break in of the TCRI lab is cool too and we see that Donatello knows a lot more than just fighting. And this issue is the set up for a big arc for the Turtles.
Issues 5,6, and 7
I'll speed this up. These are the last issues in the collection and they form one story. Though each one could stand alone.
The Turtles are transported to a distant planet where they immediatley fight with some armed soilders of that planet. They are aided by a robot named Fugitoid who is on the run from the soilders. Fugitoid was a human scientist who was working on a translocation device much like the one the turtles used. He was struck by lightening while using another device that utilized telepathy, his mind was transported into his worker robot. He is currently on the run because the government of his planet wants him to develop the teleportation device and use it as a weapon. They hide out in a bar where they are discovered and a big fight ensues. Another alien race, the Tricetron (humanoid tricaratops) is on planet searching for Fugitoid as well. They want the teleportation device for their own. More fighitng happens and the Tricertrons capture Fugitoid. The turtles make chase and stoway on the Tricertrons' ship.
The Tricetrons land on their space crater base and discover the turtles. They throw them into their arena games. The turtles battle and escape. They attempt to rescue Fugitoid in hopes he can create a telportation device return them to earth. Meanwhile on earth the TCRI faciltiy is on lockdown due to a flash of light that shot out days before. The flash of light was the turtles teleporting. The police and national guard are putting plans together to raid the TCRI faciltiy. April is worrired for the turtles since she hasn't seen them in days and is more worried when she sees the reports on TCRI. Back to space, the Turtles, a few Tricertrons and Fugitoid are magically teleported but to where?
The Turtles and co arrive back in the TCRI lab. A fight ensues and the Tricetrons are neutralized. THe turtles reunite with splinter. The TCRI aliens explain to the turtles that they mean them no harm. They explain that they were there to research earth and had crashed. The ooze that created the turtles was the last of items salvaged from their wreckage. The assure the turtles that they will teleport them once their translocator is fixed, to whereever they wish. However the last flash of light of when the turtles teleported in cause a stir and the national guard raid the building. With the help of the Fugitoid the TCRI aliens fix the translocator and set the building for self distruct (they do warn the National Guard to get out) but they tell the turtles they are unable to transport them back to April's apartment. With minutes to spare the whole crew enters the translocator. The building is distroyed but the National Guard does make it out, with the mystery unresolved. However as April returns home she hears a noise. The Turtles and Splinter have been teleported back albeit in her bathtub.
This was a fun epic for the turtles. Unlike anything I've seen from them. This was Eastman and Laird's tribute to Star Wars. There's space bars where fights break out and giant space station. The Triceretrons are bad dudes but have a cool look to them. A friend that is introduced in the Fugitoid. I don't remember him from the cartoon but I did have his action figure. He was another series Eastman and Laird were working on and decided to include him in this multi issue arc with the Turtles.
This ends the first volume of TMNT the ultimate collection. I'll be back later with overall thoughts.
The Tricetrons and Fugitoid! I forgot about them!
Oh, I haven't read these books in a long time, but they were such a blast. I should pull the falling-apart TPB collections off my shelves and revisit them...
I have that Raphael one-shot as well. I have all but one of them if memory serves. Raphael's or Donatello's were 1 and 1A for me in enjoyment. I really liked Casey Jones a lot. He was a great supporting character in the series.
I read the new Raphael one-shot (micro series) this week. and that was fun as well.
Reading this makes me want to go back and watch a few of the cartoons and the films again. I'm afraid that they cartoons won't be as good as I remember.