This is the second Return to the Sewers comparison piece following IDW’s new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles timeline and how it differs from the original Mirage timeline. These reviews will reference IDW’s TPBs as well as original issues that are being re-released by IDW in TPB format. IDW’s Micro-Series Vol 1 will be released in June 2012 and collects the first 4 micro-series issues of this new series, Raphael, Michelangelo, Donatello, and Leonardo. IDW also released The Ultimate Collection Vol 1 in November 2011 which contains Raphael #1 and released The Ultimate Collection Vol 2 in March 2012 which contains Michelangelo #1, Donatello #1, and Leonardo #1. These reviews will also contain spoilers to the plot lines so ***SPOILER ALERT*** to everyone who wanted to read these issues first.
The first four IDW issues are released in the same order as the Mirage originals with Raphael being the first Turtle to be featured in his own story. Both issues are about Raphael fighting crime on his own. In the IDW version, we have Casey Jones accompanying Raphael. They fight with the human forms of Bebop and Rocksteady, implying that they will eventually be mutated. They are not in any Mirage comics and were original to the Fred Wolf cartoon. I am glad that they are reintroducing existing characters. We also meet Alopex, a mutant arctic fox, who turns out to be working with Bebop, Rocksteady, and a ninja who seems like a number two to The Shredder. I would like him to play a role like Tatsu did in the first two live-action TMNT movies. Tatsu was never in the original Mirage comics, but according to Tristan Jones’ Facebook page, was going to be brought in at the end of the Gang Wars story arc, which never saw a conclusion. In the Mirage book, Raphael is confronted by Casey Jones while fighting crime. The entire issue is about Casey Jones and Raphael meeting and fighting and it takes until the very last page for them to actually work together. I like both issues for different reasons. Bebop and Rocksteady will be very interesting additions to the story. Also, Casey Jones’ involvement in the Mirage issue is great just because I like Casey Jones, period.
The second issue stars Michelangelo during the holidays. Both issues involve a crime taking place. The IDW story takes place at a New Year’s Eve party and Michelangelo is mistakenly included in a heist. He ends up foiling it and this entire issue showcases Michelangelo’s “party dude” persona. The Mirage story takes place at Christmas time at a toy store. Michelangelo follows his new friend, Klunk the cat, to the back of a toy store and discovers that the store is being robbed. The cat jumps into the back of the truck that the burglars drive off in and Michelangelo follows. He ends up hijacking the truck, being chased by the police, and returns the toys to the orphanage with the help of April and the other Turtles. I am glad that we had this IDW issue to define Michelangelo’s personality, but from what I can tell, there is nothing tying it into the main story arc. Since Raphael’s, Donatello’s and Leonardo’s issues have tie-ins to the main story, my feeling is that we will find significance in this issue once we get to the Shadows of the Past issues 9 – 12 (or later).
The third issue features Donatello in a tribute to Jack Kirby. In the IDW story, Donatello, browsing web forums late at night with the username “duz_machines_84”, accepts an invitation from “prof_J_perry” (a nod to the second live-action TMNT movie) to attend the New World Expo. There he meets another member of the forums Harold Lillja “kirby_fan01”, who is brought to see Baxter Stockman. Lillja is asked to help him track the Turtles , which he accepts. In the Mirage story, Kirby is renting office space in April’s building. Donatello sees Kirby’s drawings come to life and rise off the page. They go through a portal to another world and in the end, Kirby decides to stay behind with all his creations. I prefer the IDW issue to the Mirage issue. The IDW issue ties Baxter Stockman into its story which adds to the timeline. The Mirage issue feels really out of place with the early Mirage issues (not so much with all the stuff that came later).
The fourth issue follows Leonardo as he battles the Foot Clan by himself. Both issues are very similar. The IDW comic ends with the ninja with the scar from issue #2, who will eventually become The Shredder, confronting Leonardo and dropping him off a building. This issue is more significant in the IDW timeline than the Mirage issue because this is the first time we encounter the Foot Clan in this way. We have seen them in the past, but they have either been in pairs, or it was not clear which faction they belong to. In the Mirage book, they meet The Shredder for the second time as Leonardo crashes through April’s apartment window saying “…He’s…back…the…Shredder!”. The seriousness of the Mirage issue is broken up by checking into the other Turtles preparing for Christmas eve. We see Michelangelo’s cat Klunk which we met from his original issue. The Mirage issue is my favorite in the series. The IDW issue would have been my favorite also, but the art really takes away from my enjoyment of the story. The fact that Leonardo looks like a ragdoll most of the time detracts from the seriousness the story is supposed to be conveying.
I am really enjoying the micro-series. They serve to establish the individual Turtles’ personalities. Running alongside the main storyline, I am glad that they are taking the time to give some back story and release these as separate issues. The only downside to the micro-series issues is the art. They have different artists doing each issue. I really like what Dan Duncan is going with the ongoing series. I am not too fond of the guest artists. I was also not fond of the Mirage issues that were not done by Kevin Eastman or Peter Laird. I feel that this is why I just can’t get into some of the original comics, and why I have so much trouble with Mirage’s Tales of the TMNT series. The fifth issue of the Mirage series focused on The Fugitoid, a fugitive android. He has yet to be introduced in the IDW timeline and so we should not see a micro-series issue dedicated to him until they decide to bring him in. Something that I am really looking forward to is the fact that the micro-series will continue past issue #4. It was announced by IDW editor Bobby Curnow via IDW forums that there will be at least four more issues in this series focusing on Splinter, Casey Jones, and April O’Neil.
Stay tuned for my next review which will feature the Mousers from Mirage’s issue #2. IDW’s Enemies Old, Enemies New TPB will be released in July 2012 collecting issues 5 to 8.