TMNT Urban Legends #1 // Review
Since someone demanded it, IDW reprints Image’s run on the TMNT. Does it hold up?
Back in 1996, Image was allowed to put out a third volume of stories featuring the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles for reasons that are hard to uncover online. Eastman and Laird, the two creators of the TMNT, did not perform any work on this book. Instead, Gary Carlson and Frank Fosco took over the writing and art duties. It was divisive in the fandom for a lot of reasons, and was actually cancelled at issue 23 before the major storyline could be resolved. Subsequent comics have basically ignored this 23-issue run, for better or worse.
Over 20 years later, IDW is remastering Image's take on TMNT, as well as finishing it, and the results are mixed.
For those who missed this story the first time around, the Turtles and Splinter are celebrating the 18th birthday of the Turtles in their sewer lair. Rather than have it be a nice and uninterrupted celebration, a gang of cyborgs and a scantily-clad ninja interrupt with guns and explosions. Donatello and Splinter are captured, and the turtles begin to go through changes that won’t let them be the same again. Unfortunately, some of those changes are also spoiled on the cover.
Adam Guzowski adds the colors for this first issue, and he does a really good job overall. The ones he chooses are vibrant, giving new life to Fosco’s pencils and the inks by Erik Larsen and Chance Wolf. What was before confusingly detailed in black and white actually becomes identifiable and gripping art. Indeed, the only weakness in the coloring is retained from the other TMNT remasters done by IDW: all the turtles look the same beyond their weapons. The added color also has a downside of making the violent injuries sustained by the characters feel incredibly realistic and jarring versus the turtles themselves. This is NOT a comic for kids, despite being a Ninja Turtles comic.
Amusingly, the comic doesn’t feel entirely stuck in the 1990s, as the designs for the turtles remain timeless. The cyborgs are also not that bad, though they feel loaded like a clone of Marvel’s Cable. The only character who feels out of place in the remastering also felt out of place then: Pimiko the ninja. She just looks like Elektra’s costume went through a wood chipper and was then given to a professional luchador wrestler.
Knowing what happens in advance doesn’t ruin the enjoyment of this issue. It’s still fast-paced, violent, and surprising as ever. While something just feels missing when compared to the Eastman and Laird books, Image’s run on the Turtles was pretty decent for what it was at the time. At the very least, this book is worth checking out if you want something different from IDW’s current ongoing.
TMNT Urban Legends #1 gets a