(IDW Publishing, 2015)
Written by Paul Allor
Artwork by Andy Kuhn
Color Artwork by Nick Filardi
Lettering by Shawn Lee
I haven’t seriously read TMNT in a while. I grew up on them and loved the toys, cartoons and comics. I have a lot of affection for them. I have flipped through the latest series every so often in my LCS and liked what I saw. I think TMNT are in a good place comic wise. At least from my limited perspective. So I am coming at Mutanimals from close to a blank slate. I am familiar with some of the players from the old days, and some characters are new to me.
Judging it solely on it being the first issue of a new team book, I think it holds up. It’s fairly solid. There is a “The story so far” blurb in the beginning that gets you up to speed. That surprised me as this is a first issue. There is also one editorial note that references a previous issue of TMNT. So I do feel a little like I am entering the story in the middle, but at the same time, they seem to be giving you a good starting point, with enough exposition and references to keep you from scratching your head at all.
The turtles don’t show up at all in this issue, which is a good thing. You are supposed to be here to read about the mutanimals. They all seem to have distinct personalities, to go with their extremely distinct visuals. They are a framed as a paramilitary mutant liberation team. Their stated goal is to “create more mutants” or rather the broader goal is basically to fight for mutant supremacy. It has a kind of bad-boy root for the villain feel. Magneto would like these guys a lot.
The initial outing of the team is an enjoyable one. I feel like I want to see where this is going. One of the only non-mutants in the book is Lindsey Baker. I find her to be initially more interesting than April O’Neil (or at least the April O’Neil I know from the old days), who if you compare this team to the TMNT she kind of pinch hits for. There is a subplot created for her in this issue that I think is rather interesting. I don’t know the character’s backstory, but I want to see what develops here. I feel like there is a lot of potential here in general. Adding a female mutant teammate or two might not be a bad idea.
Some of the team got to enjoy a little more screen time than the others, so as future issues bring some of the other characters to light, hopefully an interesting team dynamic will unfold. There is some comic relief, and it’s balanced nicely with the action. The story seems to have a high adventure tone, but anchored with some darker themes of mutant experimentation, living outside the law, and essentially waging war on a corporate juggernaut. I feel like the direction of the book was very firmly established in the first issue.
The art was bold, blocky, dark, and kind of “chunky” or sketchy. I liked it a lot. The body shapes of some of the characters differ from how I remember them in my youth, so they feel like new designs. The action was always clear, storytelling was spot on, and everything about the pacing, and visuals clicked for me. The coloring accentuated the blockiness of the art well, but still retained the ability to mold and sculpt with color when needed. If you are at all a TMNT fan, I think you will find this book interesting, yet new. It doesn’t feel at all like a retread of the TMNT I am familiar with. I’ll be watching to see how this book unfolds.
BJ DuVall is a novice comic creator, and nerd. He likes to spout opinions, whether people like to listen or not. Usually not.