Turtles All The Way Down: TMNT's Centennial Issue Changes Everything!

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TMNT 100

Many years ago, when the Earth's crust was just beginning to cool (also known as the 1980s), the ground sprang forth with the direct market. Shops that specialized only in comic books began to appear, and with them, access to titles that you simply wouldn't find in the spinner rack at your local 7-11 or discount store. Among those titles was an unassuming black and white title created by a couple of kids with access to a printer. Done as a lark--a spoof on Frank Miller's DAREDEVIL and RONIN runs--probably nobody was as surprised by its success as were its creators: Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird.

Since that time, the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES have grown from an indy book to a franchise to an empire, churning out cartoons, toys, and live-action movies. The tone of the comics has ranged from serious and gritty to cartoonish and humorous. The cast has grown to include countless other anthropomorphic warriors, and this parody title has even generated parodies of itself in much less succesful runs like ADOLESCENT RADIOACTIVE BLACK-BELT HAMSTERS and PRETEEN DIRTY-GENE KUNG FU KANGAROOS. (It was a renaissance era for independent comic books, but few were the jewels produced.)

This week IDW debuts the milestone issue, TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #100. Written by Kevin Eastman, Bobby Curnow, and Tom Waltz, this oversized adventure finds our hard-shelled heroes in the fight for their lives: Karai has taken control of the Foot Clan, and Kitsune is using the body of Shredder to perform a ritual to call forth an enormous dragon. All of New York is in turmoil, as a mutagen bomb has been detonated, which has made the presence of the mutants public and also created many, many more in the process.

The key to success likes in the paws of Master Splinter. But to defeat Kitsune and save the world, a sacrifice will have to be made to maintain the cosmic balance. This is the book that is going to have all TMNT fans talking for months to come.

 So how does the book deliver on all that? While Eastman, Curnow and Waltz formed the story, the script itself is all Waltz, and it ultimately gets us where it wants us to go, although the road is a bit bumpy in places. The fight scene with Rock Steady, Bebop, and Anchovy was a bit of a back and forth thing: they fight, they rest, they fight some more, they go to a bigger fight and just leave them there. It seemed a bit of a space filler, all leading up to the first impacting departure in the story.

As for the art, it's a case of too many cooks. You can definitely tell the stylistic changes that take place when the handoff occurs, which is jarring for maintaining the continuity of a single plot thread. Character-wise, I found it often difficult to tell Karai and Kitsune apart, unless Kitsune had her fox mask on -- which sometimes just appeared on her face seemingly from nowhere.

There's plenty of action here, a continuing subplot about Krang that is going to be frightening to follow, and, as mentioned, the unexpected twist that will see the departure of one pivotal character and the return of another you never thought you'd see again. If you're a TURTLES fan, this is the issue things have been building toward. If you've been away for a while, this is the issue to catch you back up. Either way, it's going to be a milestone in TMNT history that you're going to want to have in your collection.

Looking for where you can get your hands on a copy of this book? Cosmic Comics of Belleville can hook you up. Walk in or give them a call to make TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #100 your own.

Grade: 
3.5 / 5.0