Monday, October 13, 2014

Review: Tales of The TMNT #2

For Tales of The TMNT's second issue, writer/editor Steve Murphy is joined by the then-regular TMNT pencil artist Jim Lawson (whose speed and efficiency must be really rather astounding) and inker Eric Talbot. Peter Laird provides the drawing for the frontspiece, a lovely image of Leonardo meditating by a stream in the country, surrounded by curious animals, as well as the lettering for the book.
This issue, entitled rather eye-rollingly as "Seeds of Destruction" (a bad joke that will become apparent as you read), was originally conceived, Murphy writes in his introduction, as a pitch for a by-then-canceled comic book (from Dreamwave) based on the then-ongoing, 2003-launched Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series, where he hoped it would be called "In The Realm of the Super-senses" and be a "full-color manga style" comic.

I'm pretty curious as to what that might have looked like, given how well it fit within the black-and-white Mirage aesthetic. Lawson's artwork here looks slightly more exaggerated and refined than it did in the TMNT title, with more stark image-making and fewer details cluttering up the planes of imagery, while Talbot's inks are very heavy, making for a truly black and white book. That is, it's all black on white, no gray, or suggested shades or tones.

The story begins with Donatello and Raphael returning to the sewer lair from a junkyard scavenging trip to find Michelangelo and Leonardo staring at Master Splinter, who is in a trance, levitating a foot above his pillow.

The story then flashes back a bit, and explains what's up. Splinter was attacked by an evil presence in the lair, one capable of throwing stones and shuriken at him. He retreats to some old books to study and prepare himself for warfare on the astral plane, where he engages his attacker—a mystic warrior member of the Foot Clan—and the adversaries engage in an Eastern mystic version of a sorcerer's duel where their astral forms transform in a series of attacks and counter-attacks.
Master Splinter obviously proves to be the master over his opponent, but Murphy stresses that it is but a single battle in an ongoing campaign, as the mystic attacker is an initiate facing his final ordeal. A trio of other Foot mystics, who will reappear later in the series, take his life as recompense for his failure, and ominously state that they too will attack Splinter some day.

From Dooney's frontspiece to the very last panel, the art in this particular issue is all super-strong. Lawson does some really neat work with the panels on the first page, using bolts of lightning as panel borders as the "camera" gradually zooms in on the mystic challenger, seated atop the roof of a building during a storm.

This struck me as a strange, though:
I don't know why, maybe because the Turtles are always nude save for belts and bandanas, but I was kinda shocked to see Michelangelo wearing pajamas. I guess I just assumed he slept in the nude, the same way he does, um, everything else.

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