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‘Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: 40th Anniversary Comics Celebration #1’ – Comic Book Review

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have been entertaining fans for forty years. IDW has released this giant-sized comic of short stories to celebrate the many iterations over the franchise’s history. This collection almost plays like an Elseworlds version of the Turtles with more heart and reflections on a group of characters who are no strangers to reboots. These shorts are presented chronologically, starting with the Mirage Studio years.

Kevin Eastman draws the first story set to an Edgar Allan Poe poem called “Alone” which ties the original series to the most recent continuation, The Last Ronin. It’s a real treat for fans, new and old. Next is a Jim Lawson story called “Monsters,” where a young boy is scared of running into the so-called monsters seen around New York City and runs into the human monster, the Rat King. What happens when one of those so-called monsters saves him from the real one? Written, drawn, and lettered by Lawson, the art looks like Ninja Turtles by way of Rick and Morty. The story really captures the paranoia of determining who the real monster is. “Gang War” by writer Tristan Jones and with art by Paul Harmon is a story about a newspaper writer looking back on all of the coverage she has done over the years, summarizing the Mirage years of the Ninja Turtles. The art in this story was my favorite; Harmon’s art gives it that Sean Phillips feel. It would be interesting to see this type of Ninja Turtles comic actually play out.

Also included is “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Urban Legends” written by Gary Carlson and drawn by Frank Fosco. A comic that is off-putting to say the least, not in a violent or gross way, just in some of the choices made: Donatello being a cyborg, Raphael wearing Casey Jones’ mask. There is a reference to Splinter having mutated more into a bat. While some of these concepts seem interesting, this entry is definitely one of the wackier ones.

There are a few shorts set in the worlds of the many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles TV series. Archie Comics’ “TMNT Adventures” story shows April consoling a heartbroken Raphael. A “Saturday Morning Adventures” story has the Turtles contemplating their future after a rough week of fighting crime, while the story, “Splinter Forever,” from 2003’s TV series has Splinter’s life flashing before his eyes until the Turtles come and save the day. The stand-out story for me was from the 2012 TV series called “Kraang Among Us.” It starts off with dance fighting and ends with the Turtles fighting a Kraan Promordius, Dimension X’s answer to John Carpenter’s the Thing. Closing out the TV show shorts is a story called “Farewell” which finds Michaelangelo opening a time portal for Leonardo so he can have some closure. Each of these comics keeps the tone of its source material well, as they were written by showrunners or writers of their respective work with the exception of “Saturday Morning Adventures” written by Erik Burnham.

A couple of stories from the current era of comics released by IDW closes out this collection. First the Turtles, April O’Neill, and Casey Jones leave gifts at Splinter’s grave. Oroku Saki tries to meditate while the Turtles disturb spirits in the Thin Place, when they should be practicing. While the first story has all the feels, the second story was a bit of a tonal shift. In a franchise that has the potential to be serious, but also goofy for kids, it’s understood why it closes with the story it did. There is a pin-up gallery in the back and while Stan Sakai’s pin-up sticks out the most, it would be nice to see a short crossover story with Usagi Yojimbo.

The franchise is still going strong after all this time with reboots happening on all fronts. After the success of the last movie, there is a sequel TV show and movie on the way. Add that to the new comic series from Jason Aaron and The Last Ronin video game, there’s enough to have you shout, ”I love being a Turtle (fan)!”

Publisher: IDW Publishing
Click here to purchase.

Forrest Gaddis, Fanbase Press Guest Contributor



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