Much of that excitement came from seeing the various variant covers; I kinda wish they sold a "gallery" version that just collected all of these. You can see them yourself at the Kickstarter page. They include a Jim Lawson/Steve Lavigne image featuring Cerebus hanging out in the Turtles' sewer lair and a nice Michael Dooney image of Cerebus, the Turtles and Renet, as well as covers from EDILW-favorite artists Kyle Hotz and Simon Bisley and one-time favorite, now-problematic artist Brandon Graham.
I just ordered one of the Dave Sim covers, however, which is a "cover" version of Kevin Eastman's original cover for the original comic, with a few minor changes (some unnecessary flashes of light on some of the metal, a new lightning effect on bad guy Savanti Romero, Cerebus is wearing a helmet instead of bare-headed).
As for the remastering, I can't tell you how effective it is. I didn't pull out my old Mirage collection and lay the pages side-by-side, but everything looked familiar, perhaps more crisp and clear then I remember, and thee was definitely a starker contrast between black and white than then the yellowing pages of my collection.
In addition to a Cerebus crossover of sorts, this is actually a pretty significant issue in TMNT history, as it also introduces the apprentice Time Lord and henceforth recurring character Renet and recurring villain Savanti Romero, who I'm fairly certain logged more appearances in the original Mirage series than The Shredder did*.
The story, by Kevin Eastman, Peter Laird, Dave Sim and Gerhard, finds Renet absconding with her master Lord Simultaneous' magic scepter to New York City, circa 1986 (which was, at the time of publication, "the present"). There she meets the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, who had just returned to Earth after the first real arc of their own book. Lord Simultaneous tracks Renet down, prompting her to make another time jump to "anyplace on this Earth before humans recorded time!"
That, of course, means the setting of Cerebus comics (1406, according to an editorial box), and, in fact, Renet and the Turtles land right on top of Cerebus. As he and Leonardo cross swords, the master of the nearby fortress Cerebus had been planning on breaking into comes out with soldiers to retrieve the scepter; this is Savanti Romero, the goat-legged, horn-headed sorcerer.
Cerebus then raises an army to invade the fortress, which Romero defends with an army of the risen dead. After some medieval adventure for our time-travelling heroes, it all works out, thanks to the timely, deus ex machina intervention of Lord Simultaneous, who easily out-matches Romero, even with his possession of the scepter, and returns everyone to their status quo, shunting Romero off to prehistoric times and chaining-up the rebellious Renet with a feather duster and list of chores.
Read today, it's remarkable for how big a comic it is. It's just 45 pages, but it's a very full 45 pages, devoting to telling a big, rather epic story that introduces plenty new concepts and characters into the TMNT narrative and, because it tells a complete story with a beginning, middle and end in its pages, reads a bit more like an original graphic novel, or at least an oversized annual, compared to simply the next issue of an ongoing comic book series.
It also boasts the pleasures of the series it is a part of, in which there's unusual alchemy regarding the who-did-what of the proceedings, as at that point with the Eastman and Laird partnership, they both seemed to have done a little bit of everything, but the inclusion of Sim and Gerhard among the creators mean that Cerebus and his dialogue look like they came out of the pages of the Cerebus comic, plopped down into the pages of Eastman and Laird's comic book. It's an unusual inter-property crossover, in large part because the creators of the characters are so involved with the making of the comic book.
Growing up, I used to wonder why it was that Stan Sakai's Usagi Yojimbo character, who also had some early, if minor, crossovers with the TMNT (in 1987's Turtle Soup #1 and 1988's Usagi Yoimbo #10, became embraced by the franchise once it went mainstream and multimedia, while Cerebus, who had a bigger, more expansive comics crossover—actually appearing in an issue of the main TMNT series—did not. Now I realize that likely had much to do with Sim himself, but it's interesting to imagine an alternate world where in Cerebus appeared in the original toy line, in the original kids' cartoon and would later appear in video games like Usagi did.
I'm not sure what backmatter might have existed in the original TMNT #8, but this remastered edition includes a March 1986 letter from Eastman to Sim, a full-page ad featuring Cerebus and the Turtles in medieval fantasy gear, and a 2012 print by Sim and Eastman featuring "Matisse The Unknown Turtle", Cerebus with a shell and TMNT-style mask, surrounded by the four ninja turtles.
than the first one. This might be in part because it relies more heavily on pre-existing Batman villains (Killer Moth, The Riddler, The Penguin, The Mad Hatter and even the KGBeast all make appearances, and the identity of the Hill Ripper turns out to be an extant, if minor, villain) than the originals that filled the first volume (Seer, The Saints, Tutor, Spellbinder III, The Hill Ripper).
It's...not a great argument for using original villains, unfortunately, but I think it may have something to do with the way they were used rather than the simple notion that existing Bat-villains are always preferable to original creations. In the first volume, Cloonan and Conrad threw all of them at the Batgirls at the same time in a way that felt confused, whereas here they deal with the threats in a more orderly fashion: After two issues wrapping up the Seer and the Saints storylines (which did seem awfully anti-climatic, given how many issues were spent building up Seer as some sort of evil anti-Oracle), the remaining issues of the volume are devoted to the hunt for The Hill Ripper. That, at least, felt like a normal Batman-adjacent comic, with a single, focused conflict occupying our heroes.
The first two-issue story, "Bad Reputation", finds Seer working with the Batgirls to take down The Saints, who turned on Seer after they realized she had tricked them into thinking Simon Saint was still alive (these villains hail from the ranks of the Peacekeepers from James Tynion IV and company's "Fear State" story arc/Bat-event...another problem with the first volume, I thought). This takes them to Seer's secret hideout, in the basement of the Iceberg Lounge, which leads to a Penguin appearance. Barbara Gordon decides to enter through the front door, with date Dick Grayson, so Nightwing and all three Batgirls are there for the climax, which basically just fizzles, in regard to the threat Seer was built up as. Guest artist Robbi Rodriguez drew this storyline.
That's followed by the four-part title arc, "Bat Girl Summer," with chunkier, smoother art by Neil Googe, which, stylistically is more in keeping with that of original series artist Jorge Corona (who, for this volume at least, simply contributes covers, like the one that shows up on the collection).
When grumpy neighbor Mr. Green turns up dead, Stephanie Brown lost her number one suspect in the Hill Ripper case, thanks to some Rear Window-like shenanigans. His death does lead to a new clue, though, a fake eyeball containing an elaborate, Riddler-like code clue. While Steph and Cass run that down, Barbara suits-up again to contact new Gotham City Police Commissioner Renee Montoya to talk about the possibility of an alliance; Babs is reluctant to hack the police department for their files on the Ripper without their permission. (Montoya, somewhat oddly for someone who has been a Gotham City vigilante, is opposed to working with vigilantes, and wants to do everything by the book; at least Cloonan and Conrad have Montoya mention her time as The Question.)
During their sleuthing at the library, Steph and Cass run into one Kyle Mizoguchi, from the pages of Cloonan and company's long-canceled Gotham Academy book. He helps the girls with their research, and gives Steph his number; they even make a date for the Gotham Zoo, where the clues point, and where Cass teams up with Maps Mizoguchi for some "Batman stuff" while Kyle and Steph talk. Based on the dialogue, it doesn't look like anything will come of Kyle and Steph, but I guess I'll have to read the next volume to be sure; it's an interesting pairing, and one with a lot of potential to bring Gotham Academy's favorite characters closer into the world of Batman (and back in the spotlight), although I confess I have lost track of how old Steph, Cass and the other Batman sidekicks are actually supposed to be now. (From the end of Tynion's 'Tec run, it seemed like Tim was ready to go off to college, and he and he and Steph were together at that point, driving off together into the sunset, and were still together into the pages of Brian Michael Bendis' rebooted Young Justice. If Steph is Tim's age, than I guess that would make her 18-ish, and ready for college...and thus an older woman to Kyle. She doesn't seem to be in any kind of school in the pages of Batgirls, though).
The hunt brings in a few other Bat-villains, as traditional Batgirl foe Killer Moth is working with the Hill Ripper (and here he's got a web-gun as well as a pretty cool redesign; I guess moth caterpillars do secrete sticky stuff when they get ready to make cocoons, but this seems a bit of a stretch for Killer Moth, thematically), and The Riddler, who is also trying to "solve" the Ripper case, apparently by leaving Riddler-style clues with the bodies for others to follow, since the Ripper himself does not (As for the Ripper, he is, spoiler alert now, Mr. Fun, who first appeared in 2002's—Gah! He's over 20 years old at this point!—Batman: Family by John Francis Moore, Rick Hoberg, Stefano Guadiano and Steve Lieber, an eight-issue miniseries that I mostly remember for introducing a bunch of new, minor villains for the Bat-Family to tangle with (I don't think it's been collected yet).
It's still not the Batgirls comic book I thought I wanted, exactly, but, with this second volume, it seems to be getting there. I'm hopeful the third volume is even better, and then I guess that's it for the book, as it's already been cancelled.
this post), in which the pair encounter an ancient Chinese sorcerer/demon capable of possessing his foes. So foundational are these two stories to the Batman Vs. Robin miniseries, indeed, that the collection includes a six-page excerpt from the final issue of Robin and the nine-page finale of World's Finest #6; a reader is expected to be familiar with these stories, and the collection goes out of its way to make sure they are (Also of some import is probably the Batman story arc "City of Bane", in which Alfred was killed off, given that he here reappears alive for a time, although DC's editors don't weigh its importance as such that it needed excerpted before the beginning of this new story.)
Suddenly, Robin is the narrator and protagonist, and Nezha is bodily possessing Batman's fatally wounded-and-dying body in Gotham City. With an assist from The Monkey Prince, Zatanna, Enchantress and the Bat-Family, Robin must find a way to beat Nezha, exorcise him from Batman's body and somehow replace him with the necessary soul energy to restore Batman to life. It's not surprising that Robin finds a way to do the impossible, of course, but, as ever, it's the how that's interesting.
The He-Man Effect is his book-length exploration of how nostalgia for various toy brands was put in his head, and the heads of his entire generation (myself included) by force.