This is the third 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 Enemies Old, Enemies New was released in July 2012 and collects issues 5 to 8 of this new series. These reviews will also contain spoilers to the plot lines so ***SPOILER ALERT*** to everyone who wanted to read these issues first.
The fifth issue is a stand-alone story which acts as a prologue to the Enemies Old, Enemies New story arc. This issue starts by going into detail about Splinter and the Turtles’ origin. I wrote about it in my last review but will summarize it here. In a previous life, back in Japan, the Turtles were Splinter’s children. All 5 of them were murdered by Oroku Saki. They make a point of mentioning that Oroku Saki’s face is scared.
This is where we get the controversial introduction of the coloured bandanas. Since the original comics books were in black and white, this was not an issue. The Turtles were defined by their weapons and dialogue. When Mirage started introducing coloured covers, the Turtles always had red bandanas. The various colours were only adopted for the Fred Wolf cartoon so that kids could easily tell the Turtles apart. The explanation given in the IDW comics is that they all wore red in support of their lost brother, Raphael; red being his favourite colour. Now that they have been reunited, Master Splinter rewards them with bandanas of each Turtles’ favourite colour. Raphael is rewarded for his month of training with a pair of sais. As much as I would have liked them to keep the red bandanas for more than 4 issues, I am fine with the colours. It is how most people know them and this is a full colour comic book.
This story arc starts out when we meet a French ninja who warns the Turtles that “War is coming”. We will have to see how this plays out. I believe it is foreshadowing something similar to the City at War story arc from the Mirage series, issues #48-62, where there were fights between ninja factions fighting in New York. I am hopeful that they will introduce Karai, who was a high-ranked member of the Foot Clan. (EDIT: Karai will be introduced in issue #9. We also now know that the Purple Dragons as well as the Foot Clan are involved in the ongoing story.) Splinter is sure that the French ninja is a member of the Foot Clan which he remembers from Japan in his previous life. Donatello is very skeptical of the whole “reincarnation” idea, as are some fans. I like having a new twist on things. This will lead to a stronger bond between Splinter and the Turtles.
Meanwhile, Baxter Stockman presents his Mousers to Old Hob. He gives Old Hob a third chance to retrieve Splinter. Hob will be able to use the Mousers to assist him. He sends Old Hob to the sewers to attack the Turtles and return with Splinter. In the Mirage comics, the Mousers were used to rob banks and hold the city hostage. The Mousers were then used to chase down April O’Neil and the Turtles. In the end, the Turtles are victorious in both versions. Unfortunately for them in the IDW series, Old Hob has captured Splinter and returns him to Baxter Stockman. In the Mirage issue #3, Splinter is found by two TCRI employees following the Mouser attack and is returned to the TCRI building. In the IDW issue #9 we will see an agglomeration of these stories with similar art from both versions.
Next we are shown General Krang overlooking the impacts of the ongoing war on Planet Neutrino. This reference is being pulled from the Fred Wolf cartoon as is Krang. It is interesting that they went this route since we also have interstellar travel in the Mirage comics when the Turtles meet the Triceraton, an alien race of anthropomorphic Triceratops. I am excited to see how the Triceraton are handled since we now know that Micro-Series issue #8 will feature the Fugitoid. It was with the Fugitoid that the Turtles originally met, and fought, the Triceraton. I think they should be saved for later since we already have a lot going on right now.
Throughout these issues, we get the story of how Casey Jones and April O’Neil meet each other. Casey plays hockey for his school and is now on academic probation; he cannot play for the team unless he improves his marks. Meanwhile, April puts up an ad offering tutoring in exchange for self-defense classes. After Casey responds to April’s ad we get some advancement in their romance. By trading self defense courses for tutoring, Casey and April begin to spend more and more time together. Casey, realising that April knew the Turtles before their mutation, brings her to meet them. She faints immediately, just like in pretty much every incarnation. In the Mirage comics, she is introduced to the Turtles while she is running away from the Mousers in the sewers and comes across/is saved by them. Later, during the City at War story arc, Casey and April’s relationship becomes closer after Casey becomes Shadow’s legal guardian following the death of her mother during childbirth. I highly doubt Shadow will make an appearance in this version of the Turtles, but you can never say never when it comes to comic books.
While the plot is advancing pretty slowly, I am surprisingly enjoying the aspects of the Fred Wolf series that are being introduced. I did enjoy the cartoon as a child, it just does not hold up for me watching it now. I do appreciate what the cartoon did to bring the Turtles into the mainstream, but it did dumb down and make the Turtles “shells” of their former selves. Bringing in some iconic characters and making them slightly edgier and on par with the current IDW incarnation is a plus and expands the Turtle lore. I am looking forward to the next story arc since every issue has been better than the last.
Stay tuned for my next review, IDW’s TMNT Infestation 2 Vol 3 TPB will be released in August 2012 which contains the two TMNT Infestation issues written by Tristan Huw Jones.