Written by Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz
Art by Eastman and Dan Duncan
When this current decade of comics is all said and done, it may very well be remembered as the era of the reboot and relaunch. DC is set to relaunch their entire catalog of titles and Marvel is constantly cancelling and restarting books with new first issues, while IDW Publishing has made a name for itself by relaunching old properties from twenty or thirty years ago and putting a new spin on them. This formula has worked so far with such popular properties as Transformers, G.I. Joe, and Ghostbusters, and this week brings us their newest venture, the first issue of a brand-new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, featuring plots and layouts by co-creator Kevin Eastman. This is the first time the Turtles have graced the pages of a comic for quite some time, and based on the effectiveness of this first issue, I for one hope they don’t go anywhere for quite a while.
This introductory issue begins in the middle of a street brawl involving the Turtles and their rodent mentor, Splinter, against a gang of thugs led by a feline villain named Old Hob. As they fight, Splinter narrates, going over the various personality traits of the Turtles and how they fit each member’s distinct fighting style, which I thought was a rather brilliant way of introducing the characters to any readers who may not be too familiar with them. Noticeably absent from the battle is their resident wiseass Raphael, who we find out later has left the group and has been wandering New York as a vagrant. The rest of the issue is devoted to a flashback involving April O’Neil, an intern at a research facility headed by Baxter Stockman who oversees an experiment that we are led to believe will provide the new origin of Splinter and the Turtles’ mutation. The details of this origin, as well as the reason why Raphael split from the group, will more likely be explained as this opening arc continues.
This issue establishes an entirely new continuity for the Turtles and their supporting cast while at the same time providing a great deal of winking references to fans of both the old comics and of the immensely popular Eighties cartoon. The tone is serious, but the writers allow a little humor to come through as well. A handful of well-known characters from the series are reintroduced in new and original ways, but Eastman and his co-writer Tom Waltz are fortunately saving their main enemy The Shredder for later. The art by Eastman and Dan Duncan is somewhat reminiscent of the original books but it is much more appealing to modern comic readers. While this first issue is pretty light on plot, I found it to be a very effective reboot of the series and can’t wait to see the new and interesting places this creative team takes the characters. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Ongoing #1 gets 4 out of 5 “Cowabunga” T-shirts.