Wednesday, March 06, 2024

A Month of Wednesdays: February 2024


Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Reborn Vol. 8—Damage Done (IDW Publishing) This volume opens with a somewhat incongruous done-in-one chapter, by guest writer Michael Walsh and artists Vlad Legostaev, Santtos and Walsh. In it, the four brother turtles are hanging out alone in their lair together when they receive an unexpected visitor from the future, a middle-aged mutant ninja turtle who is apparently one of them. He's there specifically to warn Donatello not to do something he's thinking about doing, something that will visit great ruin on them in the future and, indeed, imperil the whole world.

This seems to be setting up the next arc, following the one that fills this volume (and, if I'm counting correctly, will be the last of regular writer Sophie Campbell's run, before the big reboot).

After that issue, we return to our regularly scheduled program, wherein the events of "The Armageddon Game" are over, but still reverberating (I meant to read that book in trade from the library, but didn't manage to get a hold of it before reading this, so I was a little lost on a few points, like Mutant Town's wall coming down, and the fact that mutants are now somewhat accepted as part of general, human society). 

As for the Splinter Clan, they are in the act of splintering, with different characters having different priorities: Jennika has her band; Donatello is holed up in his lab, obsessively studying something secret that he's loathe to share with his brothers; Raphael is still preoccupied with Alopex leaving; Michelangelo is feeling the call of travel, embodied by his frequent phone calls with Princess Seri, who is on some kind of press tour and Leonardo is struggling to keep everyone on the same page for regular patrols and crime-fighting purposes. 

In essence, the Turtles are growing up, and struggling with the fact that they don't have to stay together constantly just because they're brothers; they can, in fact, do their own things. 

Meanwhile, mutants seem to be disappearing and turning up dead with alarming frequency; there seems to be a mutant serial killer on the loose. Though drifting apart, the Turtles and their allies have to come together to deal with the threat, which turns out to be a couple of villains we've met before. Things get urgent when one of the Turtles' friends, one of the weasels, goes missing.

The artwork for this arc is provided by Gavin Smith, who also drew the cover, and it's highly-realistic. Perhaps too realistic for my personal tastes, as his drawings of the turtles frequently suggested the original, live-action Turtle movies to me (the ones with the Jim Henson heads). That said, he's quite adept at expressions and acting. 

Personally I prefer Campbell's art, and consider it something of a tragedy that she wasn't able to both write and draw the entirety of her run. We do get to see a few Campbell drawings in this volume, however, as she and Kevin Eastman collaborate on some of the variant covers, and the pair make a fairly ideal Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles art team. I know I've said it before, but I'll say it again: I hope IDW finds a good project for the pair to collaborate on interiors for. 

It's pretty clear from this volume that Campbell's run is winding down; in fact, the last issues reads like it could be the last issue of a run or a series, as the Turtles all go their separate ways. But I know we've still got at least one more Campbell arc to go. 


Batman: The Adventures Continue Season Three (DC Comics) Batman: The Animated Series producers Alan Burnett and Paul Dini continue their revisitation of the seminal cartoon show they worked on in this continuation of the show's continuity, expertly drawn in the style of the show by artist Ty Templeton and others (The Kevin Altieri-drawn "Old Flames," a Batman/Harley Quinn team-up a rare deviation from the Bruce Timm-inspired aesthetic of the cartoon).

Two major storylines run throughout this volume, each starring one of Batman's greatest archenemies: The Joker and Ra's al Ghul. The former involves The Suicide Squad (and its recent addition The Muscle) going after Straight Man, The Joker's new super-strong sidekick in Gotham, the latter involves Ra's making Batman an offer he has a hard time refusing, especially given the fact that the need for Batman seems decreased more than ever by the fact that crime in Gotham has, mysteriously enough, all but disappeared, seemingly overnight. 

Both are great stories, making use of the show's by-now expansive cast, including characters (and plotlines) introduced throughout the course of The Adventures Continue. Though a bit more adult than the TV show its supposedly a continuation of—there's a scene of Bruce and Talia in bed where it's clear she's naked under the sheet, and Harley rather gorily beheads a Court of Owls Talon with scythe—it's a great celebration of it, and the climactic story, "The Offer" features appearances from just about every member of Batman's rogue's gallery for what seems like it may be his biggest "animated" adventure ever, Mask of The Phantasm and various direct-to-video movies included. 

In addition to the "straight" covers and a few designed to resemble the title cards of the old show, there are several striking variant covers, including Kevin Nowlan's, which serves as the cover for the collection (above), a Daniel Warren Johnson piece showing Batman working on the Batmobile and a Kelley Jones piece featuring Batman and seemingly his whole Animated Series rogues gallery. Though few of these are in the style of the cartoon, it's interesting to see the Timm designs in such radically different styles, including those of Sweeney Boo, Gustavo Duerte, Keron Grant, Cliff Chiang, Guillem March, Rafael Albuquerque, Brian Bolland, Matteo Scalera and others. 


Mayor Good Boy Turns Bad (RH Graphic) Everyone in Abby Ableman's world seems to be acting weird lately, no one more so than Mayor Good Boy, who may have...gone bad? What's really going on? Find out in the concluding book of Dave Scheidt and Miranda Harmon's trilogy of graphic novels about a small town with a talking dog mayor. Hopefully more books from the pair are in the future. More here