Gut Reaction: IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5



Well, the art’s better.

Actually, the art is much better. Or maybe Duncan is just better at drawing humans. Or maybe I shouldn’t be critical of his art since I’m by no means the world’s best artist.

I enjoyed this issue from a narrative perspective. It had good flow, good pacing, good everything. What I did not like were those pesky little details of what was being told. Some of it I didn’t like from a nerdy Turtle fan point of view, some of it I didn’t like from a storytelling, authorial point of view.

This issue as two things in it that will boil fan’s blood. The first is the changing of the Turtles so that they were once human. The second is the introduction of their multicolored masks.

Where to begin?

Okay, the human thing. While the story is very good, and very well told, it should not be here. That’s… just the way it is. I’m sorry. I’m not one of those people who thinks all change is bad, but this changes such a fundamental part of their characters that it just shouldn’t be done. It doesn’t work. It will not work. You’ve written yourselves into a horrible place you won’t be able to escape from. And you’ll want to later, because you can tell many more interesting stories with them having been raised as Turtles than with them 15 months old and having had past lives.

About the past lives: that is a part of the culture the Turtles hail from. I get that. In that sense it fits. But this is saying this is true. While books like TMNT Adventures often presented other cultures, it didn’t present them as true. The fact that we now have proof that, within the narrative, the Turtles and Splinter are reincarnations of past people, introduces a mystical element into a predominantly scientific origin that does not fit. And there will be trouble ahead because of it.

I’ve read before that Eastman preferred the ninja style stories and Laird the science, aliens stories. That holds up when realizing that Laird had control the last few years and now Eastman has some. The thing is, it gives me the impression that Laird had more to do with what the Turtles “became.” Because even though he didn’t like the ninja-stuff as much, he still respected that side of the characters, and it’s evident in the 2003 4Kids show. Eastman seems to be taking the opportunity to purge TMNT of it’s Laird-isms and make it a wholly ninja-tale, and it doesn’t work. It will not work. I’d lay money on it.

Also, FYI: I mentioned these events to Ellen, and she commented: “They would have had to have been really bad people to have been reincarnated as rats and turtles.” And yeah — what of that? Why weren’t they reincarnated as people? Brothers and all, but people? Even four brothers and the father becoming a pet rat that learns to talk and trains them?

This is the whole problem: if you think about it for more than two seconds, it all falls apart.

Second issue: the colored bandanas. I’m happy they’re there. I’ve never minded them. And honestly, Duncan is no Eastman and Laird. He is not good enough that I could have continued to tell them apart without the masks.

Also, my method of thinking about TMNT has changed over the years, as to which stories “count.” For a while I collected the Adventures series, so they counted. And only them. Then I realized the Mirage comic existed, and I decided that only they counted, since they were the originals. Then Laird released a timeline that said many of my favorite Mirage stories weren’t “canon” and I was sad… until I realized they’re all imaginary stories. So I count everything. Image, all the tv series, everything.

That said, there is that small voice in the back of my head that said: “Good, this means these stories don’t count,” when I saw the colored bandanas. And I imagine there are a few Mirage loyalists that felt the same way, and feel they have been given the bait-and-switch with the first four issues featuring red bandanas.

Way to alienate the most hardcore of your audience, IDW. Kudos.

Never Look Back
Matthew LeDrew


One response to “Gut Reaction: IDW’s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #5

  1. Pingback: IDW Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle Review Archive | matthewledrew·

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