From what I’d seen and heard of this issue, I was honestly walking into it wholly expecting it to be the straw that breaks the camel’s back, the issue that would turn the tide for me 180 degrees and go, “Oh. IDW TMNT really is just about revisionist Fred Wolf cartoon nostalgia. Not for me, then.” The writing was all over the wall this issue, evident in snippets revealed here and there, story excerpts leaked early, the big focus on Krang, Rock Soldiers from the cartoon… and then even word that the “planet Neutrino” from the old cartoon would be making an appearance, pretty much the poster children for everything wacky and nonsensical – to me – about the original cartoon.
Well I gave it a read, put it down, and breathed a big sigh of relief. There was no reason to worry at all. #7 is just the latest logical step in Tom Waltz’ story, the bits with Krang and a devastated planet Neutrino (and thankfully the only actual Neutrinos we see are some blackened Neutrino corpses on page 1) only serve to escalate the stakes and give us a window into just how big of a player Krang is in the big picture. Turns out Burnow Island is kind of an intergalactic staging area for General Krang… from there, he can actively teleport to other worlds with his minions and do… whatever it is he’s trying to do. What he’s trying to do isn’t exactly clear yet, beyond amassing an army to do it… and it apparently involves wiping out worlds. I do have faith his ultimate agenda won’t be as paper thin as, “I want to rule the universe! Bwa-HAHAHA!” but I hope we get clued into it more sooner than later.
I must say, I dig the design of Krang here (and the added behind-the-scenes design bits of him at the back of the issue are appreciated). He looks a little awkward in his general garb (“faaat man, little coat”) on Earth, but his barebones suit/exoskeleton is legitimately intimidating. It’s not the half-naked cancer patient in red underwear that was seen in the Fred Wolf cartoon, but rather what looks like a real battlesuit. So we actually see the “real” Krang this issue, meaning his brain-like form, which looks suitably unsettling. I’m simultaneously wondering and hoping he’ll turn out to be an Utrom.
One minor quibble… “teleportation”? C’mon, guys. Star Trek has “transporters,” “transport me to the surface, Number One!” and all that… generic science fiction has “teleportation.” TMNT has the TRANSMAT, damn it. Translocation, if preferred. Why take that away from TMNT?
OK, I’m only halfway kidding. I don’t care that much.
Onto the story, we spend about 3 pages on new human character Woody, a pizzaman who looks a little bit like comic book writer Tristan Jones. This is actually the only place I take any issue with the issue, and I’ll give you several reasons:
1. The issue grinds to a halt for 3 pages.
2. More human friends of the TMNT? We’ve only just met April and Casey… why aren’t we spending this time getting to know them?
3. Again, more human friends of the TMNT? I was under the impression the “outcast” angle of the TMNT was an angle that would be taking some prominence in this series. If we’re only starting out and they’ve already got this growing whole supporting cast of human friends… I’m not sure how or when we’re ever going to tap into this, really.
4. Makes Michelangelo look stupid. Perhaps the idea is to drive home some kind of idea of Michelangelo with child-like innocence (whereas in the source material he is more of a thinker, a writer, a poet… the fun guy too with the best quips, but still those things) who’s easily “impressed,” as it were. As just about every issue makes it a point to drive home he constantly plays video games and eats pizza, I don’t think anything is benefitted of another reminder that in this universe he’s pretty shallow.
5. Yeah, it’s kinda creepy. Michelangelo seems man-crushing on Woody pretty hard and one panel looks like he wants to ask him out on a date or something.
All of those things said, I get that he isn’t just being introduced by chance and his introduction is going to pay dividends down the line. Strictly judging it by its own merits in the confines of this one issue, though, it seems as random as it does unneeded.
Back at the lair, we get more of the Donatello-Leonardo debate about reincarnation. Also, Leonardo seems to be having flashes of his human mother, Tang Shen. Definitely food for thought, both planting seeds of doubt in what Splinter told them (perhaps their memories are manufactured, or otherwise someone else’s memories… perhaps Splinter’s “psychotropic serum” will end up equating to just a very bad LSD trip or something) and reinforcing it, depending on how you think about it. Interesting, in any case.
And then the mousers show up and it’s clobberin’ time. Old Hob presides over the action, which is extensive. As a longtime TMNT fan I felt a mouser showdown like this was inevitable – I mean, it would be weird if there wasn’t one, right? – but I wasn’t looking forward to it and didn’t found this one did anything for me. Which isn’t to say it was in any way bad… in fact, it was laid out quite well and never dull or boring, and Old Hob’s presence added a new element to things… but still, it was hard to shake a very distinct sense of, “Been there. Done this.” I think I’m still a little bummed that seven issues in, we still haven’t seen the Turtles fighting any ninjas – that we’ve only just now worked our way up from random thugs in street fights to… little killer robots. I’m sure it’s coming at some point, but you can only gnaw at an appetizer so long while you’re watching the guy across the restaurant digging into his T-Bone steak.
There’s an interesting scene with Baxter having to explain to Krang about why he isn’t further along in his mutagenic research. The actual cliffhanger in the issue is another page of “Look out, mousers!” but to me, the legitimate cliffhanger was Baxter’s final words here about, “I’ve initiated a plan” when directly asked the status of the psychotropic compound. As we can kind of figure out so far, the psychotropic serum is the X factor of difference between Splinter and the Turtles… Splinter had it, they didn’t. What differences do they have? Well, Splinter remembers his past life… they don’t.
Dan Duncan continues to improve and the art is looking more and more crisp and organic every issue. My only complaint remains the soft, squishy-looking plastrons he draws… but at this point I think it’s time for me to just shut up about them.
Very interested to see where the rabbit hole goes to next. And so should you.