Jon D. W. throws down a good bit of his hard-earned cash on comics. Here, he spills the beans on whether or not it was worth it. But to paraphrase LeVar Burton, don't just take his word for it--you should read comics, too.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE COLLECTED BOOK VOLUME TWO
Book Twelve: lettering, Steve Lavigne; everything else, Peter Laird
Book Thirteen: "The People's Choice"; art and story by Michael Dooney; letters by Lavigne
Book Fourteen: "The Unmentionables," by Eastman, Talbot & Lavigne
After loving every page of the TMNT's Collected Book Volume One, I decided to throw still more affection in the direction of Mirage Licensing and pick up the next four books in the series. For anyone who loves the Turtles, it's a good play that I'd highly recommend. That said, however, not everything collected across volumes 2-5 is gold. The stories in Book Two are more or less throwaways, although in a way that makes each reminiscent of the Fred Wolf cartoon, where no one episode has much bearing on any other. Michael Dooney's art in the #13 is an absolute delight, but #14 is the real standout of this batch--even if the plot does hinge on a completely absurd MacGuffin.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE COLLECTED BOOK VOLUME THREE
Book Fifteen: "Dome Doom"; story and pencils by Laird; inks by Lawson; letters by Lavigne; t-shirt designs by Ryan Brown; thanks to Mike Dooney for his figure assistance
Book Seventeen: "Distractions"; story, Eric Talbot & Kevin Eastman; art, Eric Talbot; scripting, Kevin Eastman & Eric Talbot; letters, Steve Lavigne
Book Eighteen: "The Shell of the Dragon," by Kevin Eastman and Mark Bode
Book Three is yet more filler before the series takes a serious turn with the next volume, but once again I maintain it's all good fun. #15 finds the Turtles teaming with the Justice Force first to defend a comics shop and ultimately to appeal to the heart that still beats within the seemingly evil Dr. Dome. #17 is more or less an extended dream sequence, but Eric Talbot's art makes it well worth the read, and even if it has no "real-world" (for the Turtles) repercussions, it's an exciting story nevertheless. The black sheep of this bunch is undoubtedly #18, which inexplicably finds all four Turtles back in the "Old Country," where they take on the local underground in order to defend the best takeout in town.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE COLLECTED BOOK VOLUME FOUR
Book Nineteen: "Return to New York"; story, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird; layouts, Kevin Eastman; pencils, Jim Lawson; inks, Peter Laird; letters, Steve Lavigne
Book Twenty: "Return to New York"; story, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird; layouts, Peter Laird; pencils, Jim Lawson; inks, Eric Talbot; letters, Steve Lavigne
Book Twenty-One: "Return to New York"; story, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird; layouts, Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird; pencils, Jim Lawson; inks, Kevin Eastman; letters, Steve Lavigne
This was the book I was really looking forward to. It takes the Turtles back off the farm in Massachusetts and puts them back in the NYC sewers, where of course they clash with the Foot and the resurrected Shredder (already revealed back in Collected Book Volume One). Hell, it's such a part of Turtle canon, this story even made its way into the 4Kids animated series. With expectations so high, could I possibly be satisfied? Well, mostly I was. The first part is great, with Leo and Raph duking it out over whether or not they should all go back, but once in NYC, the story gets more than a little muddled, with the reintroduction of a Triceraton (again, see the first Collected Book), the presence of three bizarrely mutated Shredder clones, and the presupposition that the Foot Clan could somehow have erected a false front over an entire city block and nobody was the wiser. All the same, the final showdown between Leo and the Shredder is pretty fantastic.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: THE COLLECTED BOOK VOLUME FIVE
Book Sixteen: "A Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Story" by Mark Martin
Book Twenty-Two: "Do Not Adjust Your Comic Book We Are Experiencing Technical Problems The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Will Return"* by Mark Martin
Book Twenty-Three: "Totally Hacked"* by Mark Martin
Perhaps that last bit sounded too harsh. I did indeed enjoy the "Return to New York" storyline, and was eager for more half-shell hijinks in a similar vein. Unfortunately for my own expectations, Book Five collects three issues of TMNT that were handed over in toto to Mark Martin. Don't get me wrong: The creator of Gnatrat--who is arguably the main character of issue 23--draws a terrific Turtle, and his trippy tale of time travel is a good fun romp, just not what I was itching for after the high-stakes storyline of Book Four. At the end of the day, I'd have to say this book is for completists only--which, alas, I am definitely becoming.
*I think in fact #s 22 and 23 are untitled, but what I've got here in quotes looks like it could be the titles, and since this is my blog, I decided to roll with it.
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES: CHALLENGES
While visiting the Mirage website--which features a very handy checkout process--I discovered this hardcover collection of Turtles stories in minicomics form by the terrific Dooney. Split into six chapters--"Origin," "Splinter," "Raphael," "Michaelangelo," "Leonardo" and "Donatello"--the book as a whole offers a precis on who these characters are, exploring the traits that make them different from one another, but also the common characteristics and shared experiences that keep them all together as friends and family. The brief stories certainly have no direct impact on the overarching Turtles narrative, but they provide a great read all the same, cutting to the core of who the Turtles are, and it's sure to bring a smile to any fan's face.
All images this post copyright Mirage Licensing. Text copyright Jon D. Witmer/The Danger Digest.