Free of the needed origins and explanations, IDW can now focus on the story proper, and it does so very well. They published Krang War, which dealt directly with questions looming regarding the alien brain warlord, at the same time they published the miniseries Secret History of the Foot Clan by Mateus Santolouco (story and art). The Turtles have always been a franchise with one foot in the past and one in the future, and that makes it work, and publishing both of these simultaneously was an artful stroke.
This is likely the most cinematic Ninja Turtles story I’ve ever read. It has multiple plots that both features lots of action and intrigue, and Santolouco knows just when to cut from one to the next to keep things fresh — as soon as one plot starts to collapse we cut to the next, so instead of one bogging the other down they hold each other up and make each other better. Santolouco does an excellent job on both story and art, and this issue works well as separate issues AND as one trade — not an easy thing to do.
The “past” story takes place during the Muromachi period of Feudal era Japan and features the story of how Oroku Saki came to be The Shredder in this time line, and the writing of an ancient mystical text: the history of the Foot Clan. This text possibly contains mysteries that could make The Shredder more powerful today, which brings us to the “current” storyline, a historian named Dr. Miller has discovered the book and is translating it, announcing his discoveries, starting a race to get to him from both sides.
That’s the plot of the series in a nutshell. There are lots of twists and turns along the way, but rather than a full summary I’m just going to give the bare bones of this one, because it really is too good to pass up. It needs to be read. More than that, it needs to be made into a movie. This could be adapted as-in into an direct-to-DVD animated feature or a live-action movies and be just fine. It’s full of amazing little tidbits and great dialog and unbelievably astute storytelling. It really helps when the writer and the artist are the same person, because there are so many little things like a character’s motions as they do something that just get lost in translation between the two often. Like in issue 3, when Leonardo takes off his bandana and uses it to stop his bleeding arm. It’s done subtly but effectively, and sometimes things like that get lost when two people are involved.
In the end we do move forward: this isn’t just a one-off story like the micro-series’ were for the most part. In the end we do learn how the Shredder got to our time, and that it is different from how the Turtles got here: he wasn’t reincarnated like they were, he drank ooze and then committed ritual suicide, then hibernated until the 21st century. It’s an intense scene and is not to be missed. It also comes with the revelation that the Shredder is unkillable, adding an extra layer of intensity to a villain that has not fared well under the IDW banner thus far, and sidestepping that whole debate of if the Turtles should kill him or not: we can now have the Turtles be as lethal as their ninja titles should have them being, without having to worry about death and murder in a family-friendly franchise.
Definitely among the best of the IDW content thus far.
“Definitely among the best of the IDW content thus far.”